Friday, July 19, 2019

Huffman Helps Pass Minimum Wage Bill; Legislation DOA in Republican Senate

Posted By on Fri, Jul 19, 2019 at 1:49 PM

North Coast Congressman Jared Huffman joined a majority of his House colleagues this morning in voting to gradually increase the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an to $15 an hour over the next six years.

If approved by the Senate and signed by the president (both of which seem unlikely), the legislation would increase wages for as many as 27 million Americans and potentially lift 1.3 million families out of poverty, according to a report from the Congressional Budget Office. Known as the Raise the Wage Act, the bill has been priority for the Democratic Caucus and passed the House on a 231-199 vote with just three Republicans supporting it and now heads to the Senate, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) has said he will not take it up.

click to enlarge Jared Huffman. - CONGRESS
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McConnell and other Republicans have referred to the bill as a "job killer" that would depress the economy. The CBO report did find that the bill could lead to a "decline in employment of as many as 1.3 million people."

The Economic Policy Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank, recently released a report noting that the United States is in the longest period in its history without a minimum wage hike since the earnings floor was created. The report notes that the spending power of a minimum wage worker is 17 percent less today than a decade ago, and 31 percent less than it was in 1968.

California's minimum wage is currently $12 an hour for businesses with 26 or more employees and $11 an hour for those with 25 or fewer workers. It will reach $15 an hour for employees of larger companies in 2022 and for those of smaller ones the following year. That means the legislation would have no direct impact in Huffman's district. In the press release, he explained that he's supporting the measure because he thinks it would give minimum wage workers a "fair shake" and be good for the economy.

“Americans who are paid the federal minimum wage, even those who are employed full-time, are not making enough money to pay rent or to support themselves or their families,” he said in the release. “That’s unacceptable and it’s unsustainable for families who are struggling to afford the basic essentials, and it’s bad for the economy. I’m glad to support the Raise the Wage Act to finally raise the federal minimum wage and give a fair shake to millions of hard-working Americans.”

Read the full press release from Huffman's office copied below and find past Journal coverage of local efforts to increase the minimum wage here.


Rep. Huffman Votes to Pass the Raise the Wage Act Increasing the Federal Minimum Wage to $15/Hour

Washington, D.C.- Representative Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) voted to pass H.R. 582, the Raise the Wage Act, legislation that gradually increases the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $15 an hour by 2025, giving more than 33 million American workers a raise.

The Raise the Wage Act, authored by Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) and cosponsored by Huffman and nearly every House Democrat, was approved by the U.S. House of Representatives 231-199.

“Americans who are paid the federal minimum wage, even those who are employed full-time, are not making enough money to pay rent or to support themselves or their families,” said Rep. Huffman. “That’s unacceptable and it’s unsustainable for families who are struggling to afford the basic essentials, and it’s bad for the economy. I’m glad to support the Raise the Wage Act to finally raise the federal minimum wage and give a fair shake to millions of hard-working Americans.”

After more than a decade without an increase in the federal minimum wage, the longest stretch in U.S. history, workers earning the federal minimum wage have suffered an almost 20 percent pay cut due to inflation. There is no place in America today where a full-time worker making the federal minimum wage can afford the basic essentials.

The Raise the Wage Act will:

Increase wages for up to 33 million American workers. Even the CBO’s more cautious estimate of a similar proposal indicated as many as 27 million workers would see a wage increase;
Index future increases in the federal minimum wage to median wage growth to ensure the value of minimum wage does not once again erode over time;
Lift 1.3 million Americans out of poverty, including 600,000 children, according to the CBO’s review of a similar proposal; and
Help secure fairness and equality for women, giving nearly 20 million working women a raise, and helping narrow the gender wage gap that disproportionately impacts women of color.

The full text of the Raise the Wage Act can be found here.
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Thadeus Greenson

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Thadeus Greenson is the news editor of the North Coast Journal.

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