Walmart to raise its starting wage to $11 an hour
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Walmart announced Thursday it will soon be raising its workers' starting wage rate for hourly employees to $11 following the Republican-backed tax plan. 

"Tax reform gives us the opportunity to be more competitive globally and to accelerate plans for the U.S.," the company's CEO Doug McMillon said in a statement.

"We are early in the stages of assessing the opportunities tax reform creates for us to invest in our customers and associates and to further strengthen our business, all of which should benefit our shareholders," he continued.

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"However, some guiding themes are clear and consistent with how we've been investing — lower prices for customers, better wages and training for associates and investments in the future of our company, including in technology," he said.

The changes are set to take place in February.

Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanHenry Kissinger, Tim Cook among guests at White House state dinner Overnight Finance: Stocks fall hard | Trump sending delegation to China for trade talks | SEC fines Yahoo M over breach | Dodd-Frank rollback dominates banking conference To keep control of House, GOP must have McCarthy as next Speaker MORE (R-Wis.) praised Walmart's gesture to raise its employees' wages on Thursday, calling the tax bill a major help to middle-income families.

"Today marks 20 days since the Tax Cut and Jobs Act became the law of the land," Ryan said.  "Already, this new law is helping to improve the lives of middle-income families across the country. You saw the announcement from Walmart just this morning: More than a million Americans are due to receive their bonuses because of tax reform."

Ryan's counterpart, Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiGOP anxiety grows over Trump’s Iran decision Pelosi rejects litmus test on abortion The Hill's Morning Report: Koch Network re-evaluating midterm strategy amid frustrations with GOP MORE (D-Calif.), cast doubt on the benefits of the post-tax reform bonuses, calling them "insignificant" compared to the benefits that corporate executives will gain under the revised tax system.

“In terms of the bonus that corporate America received, versus the crumbs that they are giving to workers to kind-of put the schmooze on, [it] is so pathetic,” Pelosi told reporters Thursday.

The retailer's hourly workers currently make a starting wage of $9, which is increased to $10 after they complete a training program. 

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. also announced it would increase parental and maternal leave benefits and give eligible employees a one-time cash bonus of as much as $1,000.

Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinOvernight Finance: Stocks fall hard | Trump sending delegation to China for trade talks | SEC fines Yahoo M over breach | Dodd-Frank rollback dominates banking conference Trump sending delegation to China for trade talks Treasury touts regulatory rollbacks MORE commented on Walmart's announcement at the White House press briefing.

"I would also like to highlight the announcement this morning from Walmart. We want to thank them. They will be increasing their minimum wages, issuing bonuses and expanding family benefits for over 1 million employees. Walmart is the latest company to make such an announcement and today join over 130 other companies across the nation who have already given such relief. We are up to 2 million workers that have seen special bonuses or additional wages."

"The administration’s economic policies are a function of what we see: growth and investment. Different companies will do different things — some companies will invest capital, some companies will return money to workers. Lots of things are going on in the economy and we appreciate what Walmart is doing."

The changes follow the passage of the GOP-backed tax-reform legislation last month.

JetBlue and Bank of America have made similar announcements following the legislation's passage.

Later on Thursday, it was revealed that Walmart would be closing 63 Sam's Clubs locations and would be laying off thousands of employees.

- This report was updated at 2:47 p.m.