Cantwell, Colleagues Introduce Legislation to Raise Federal Minimum Wage to $15

Bill would give nearly 32 million workers a raise, including one-third of Black workers and one-fourth of Latino workers in America

WASHINGTON, D.C. – This week U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) joined Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in introducing legislation that would raise the federal minimum wage to $15 by 2025.

“The State of Washington has been a leader in putting workers first – including raising the minimum wage,” said Senator Cantwell.Now it’s time for Congress to put workers before corporations and raise the federal minimum wage.”

The minimum wage has lost more than 30 percent of its purchasing power since 1968—in fact, if the minimum wage had kept pace with productivity since then, it would be more than $24 an hour today. The Raise the Wage Act of 2021 would increase the federal minimum wage to $15 in five steps over the next four years. Beginning in 2026, the federal minimum wage would be indexed to median wage growth.

Raising the federal minimum wage to $15 would affect nearly 32 million Americans and put an extra $3,300 annually in the pockets of full-time workers. Currently, nearly half of all Black and Latino workers make less than $15 an hour. An independent analysis by the Economic Policy Institute found that the bill would increase wages for roughly a third of all Black workers and a quarter of all Latino workers. And a 2019 review of 138 minimum wage increases at the federal, state, and local level since 1984 found no evidence of reduced employment.

The Raise the Wage Act of 2021 would:

  • Gradually increase the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour today to $15 an hour by 2025;
  • Index future increases in the federal minimum wage to median wage growth to ensure the value of the minimum wage does not erode over time;
  • Gradually raise the minimum wage paid to tipped workers from $2.13 an hour today to the full federal minimum wage to ensure consistent, livable pay;
  • Guarantee teenaged workers are paid at least the full federal minimum wage by repealing the subminimum wage for youth workers;
  • End subminimum wage certificates for workers with disabilities and gradually raise the subminimum wage to the full federal minimum wage to provide opportunities for workers with disabilities to be competitively employed and participate more fully in their communities.

Senator Cantwell has been outspoken about the need to increase the federal minimum wage and has co-sponsored legislation to do so in multiple previous congresses.

In addition to Senators Cantwell, Murray, and Sanders, the bill is also cosponsored by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Bob Casey (D-PA), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Ed Markey (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Jon Ossoff (D-GA), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Gary Peters (D-MI), Jack Reed (D-RI), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Tina Smith (D-MN), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Mark Warner (D-VA), Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).

The full text of the Raise the Wage Act of 2021 is available HERE.

A section-by-section of the bill is available HERE.

A fact sheet is available HERE.