Dozens of House Dems propose boosting minimum wage to $9.80 an hour

Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) and more than 100 of his House Democratic colleagues proposed legislation Thursday that would boost the minimum wage over three years from $7.25 to just under $10 an hour.

Miller's Fair Minimum Wage Act, H.R. 6211, would increase the minimum wage by 85 cents a year for the next three years, then allow the final $9.80 an hour wage to rise with inflation. It would also boost the minimum wage for waiters and other tipped employees — which has been at $2.13 for more than 20 years — by 85 cents a year until it hits 70 percent of the regular minimum wage.

Miller said these changes are needed because the last minimum wage increase was in 2007, and has not kept pace with the demands of millions of workers since then.

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"Anyone who works hard and plays by the rules should not live in poverty. Yet 47 million Americans now qualify as the working poor. Raising the minimum wage helps families make ends meet," Miller said in a statement accompanying the bill.

Miller is the ranking member of the Education and the Workforce Committee, but his bill would be taken up by the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Ranking member Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) is one of the many co-sponsors of the bill, along with many other senior committee members.

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) proposed a Senate companion bill on Thursday, S. 3453, along with 15 Senate Democrats.

"People who work hard for a living should not have to live in poverty," Harkin said. "I am proud to introduce this bill today, to raise the minimum wage, and to help tens of millions of workers and their families."

Earlier this year, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) proposed legislation that would immediately increase the minimum wage to $10 an hour, and then allow it to rise with inflation. Jackson's bill was supported by 17 Democrats, many of whom also signed on to Miller's bill.

Jackson did not co-sponsor Miller's bill, and has been on a medical leave of absence since June for a "mood disorder." 

— This story was updated at 1:40 p.m. to add Harkin's legislation.