By Benjamin Goad - 01/30/14 05:12 PM EST
A contingent of female Senate Democrats made their case Thursday for a hike in the federal minimum wage, saying the current rate is disproportionately relegating women to poverty.
Last increased more than three years ago, the federal minimum wage sits at $7.25 an hour. The Senate is expected to take up legislation in March that would raise it to $10.10 by 2016, though congressional Republicans have voiced opposition on grounds that an increase could stifle economic growth.
Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) urged her GOP colleagues to do some “soul searching” before the vote, saying the outcome would affect some 15 million women.
“Are they prepared to tell one in four women in America ... that $7.25 is enough to provide for themselves and their kids?” Murray asked.
On Tuesday, President Obama announced plans to issue an executive order that would effectively lift the minimum hourly wage to $10.10 for employees of federal contractors.
During his State of the Union address, he called for measures to improve pay equality for women.
“It’s time to do away with workplace policies that belong in a ‘Mad Men’ episode,” he said
Raising the minimum wage for all employees would require congressional action.