Answering the call from millions of underpaid American workers who for years have pounded the pavement demanding a living wage, progressive lawmakers on Thursday unveiled legislation in both the House and Senate that would raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, “reversing the growing trend of income inequality between the top and everybody else,” as stated by Virginia Rep. Bobby Scott.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who made the $15 minimum wage a pillar of his 2016 presidential bid, said as he introduced the bill alongside Scott and others that he knows the idea “is a radical concept for our Republican friends, but we believe in the United States of America, the wealthiest country in the history of the world, that if you work 40 hours a week or 50 hours a week you should not be living in poverty.”
Under the Raise the Wage Act, which currently boasts 152 Congressional co-sponsors, the federal minimum wage would increase incrementally until reaching $15 an hour in 2024. Beyond that time, future increases would be adjusted with inflation, “to make sure the minimum wage will never again fall woefully out of date,” as Scott said. The bill also eliminates the subminimum wage for tipped workers by gradually increasing it until it reaches parity with the federal minimum wage.
During the Thursday press conference, Sanders explained that it has been 10 years since Congress updated the federal minimum wage. “Since 1968,” he said, “the minimum wage has lost more than 25 percent of its purchasing power as millions of America work longer hours for lower wages.”
“The erosion of the federal minimum wage is the major reason why 43 million Americans are living in poverty,” Sanders noted. “Healthcare costs are going up, childcare costs are going up, college costs are going up, housing cost are going up, but wages for millions of workers are not going up,” he said.
“So, if you want to know why people all over this country are angry, why they are bitter, why they are…