A bill proposing to raise the US minimum wage in the next four years has been introduced to Congress.
The ‘Raise the Wage Act’ —which is supported by Democrats in the House and the Senate— would see the minimum wage increased from its current rate of $7.25 an hour to $9.50 upon the law’s initial passage, with scheduled incremental increases until the wage reaches $15 in 2025.
The bill is a revised version of an earlier attempt to push the US minimum wage up to $15 that was first introduced in 2019. That effort was killed off by the Republican-controlled Senate after then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell after he refused to hold a vote on the proposed legislation
But now that the Democrats in control of the Senate, thanks to their Georgia run-off wins earlier this month, it could potentially now be passed with a simple majority.
More importantly, the bill would also see subsequent increases to the minimum wage beyond 2025 tied to median wage growth, which means those who are working on minimum wage would no longer have to rely on Congress to agree to increases each year.
Senator Bernie Sanders, who has been a leading advocate for a $15 minimum wage for several years and is one of the bill’s top backers, called the legislation ‘morally imperative’.
“We’re looking at terrible levels of unemployment,” Sanders told The Guardian. “We’re looking at growing income and wealth inequality. What concerns me as much as anything is that half our people are living paycheck to paycheck.”
“Millions of people are trying to survive on starvation wages. For me, it’s morally imperative that we raise the minimum wage to a living wage that’s at least $15 an hour.”
The senator added that while he believes the measures included in the bill can win the support of enough Republicans to pass the legislation in a regular vote, it would also be possible to pass the Raise the Wage Act as a budget bill without Republican support.
The Republicans opposed to the bill said that the current economic situation as a result of the pandemic would make increasing the minimum wage unfair on small businesses, while others argue that minimum wage legislation should be left up to individual states.
According to a recently conducted poll, the research found that almost three-quarters of Americans support increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour, including 62% of Republicans, while it has also shown that the $15 benchmark would result in a significant improvement to the lives of minorities, in particular, benefiting 25% of Black workers and 19% of Hispanic workers.
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