Top Dems line up behind $12 minimum wage

Top Dems line up behind $12 minimum wage

The Obama administration and congressional Democrats are making a new push to raise the minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2020.

Top Democrats are getting behind the Raise the Wage Act introduced Thursday, which they say would increase the federal minimum wage for nearly 38 million workers.

The push goes beyond a previous proposal to lift the wage to $10.10 over three years. That effort, championed by then-Sen. Tom HarkinTom HarkinThe Hill's 12:30 Report Distance education: Tumultuous today and yesterday Grassley challenger no stranger to defying odds MORE (D-Iowa) in the last Congress, stalled amid fierce opposition from Republicans.

But Democrats say they are resolved to keep pressing for an increase, even now that the GOP controls both chambers of Congress.

“Let’s make sure hard work pays off,” said Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayChildren’s health-care bill faces new obstacles Overnight Health Care: Schumer calls for tying ObamaCare fix to children's health insurance | Puerto Rico's water woes worsen | Dems plead for nursing home residents' right to sue Schumer calls for attaching ObamaCare fix to children's health insurance MORE (D-Wash.), a sponsor of the bill.

“Right now, the minimum wage can leave a family in poverty,” she told a group of reporters. “Even after working full time, and even without taking a single day off."

Labor Secretary Tom Perez, Senate Minority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidChris Murphy’s profile rises with gun tragedies Republicans are headed for a disappointing end to their year in power Obama's HHS secretary could testify in Menendez trial MORE (D-Nev.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) are also putting their weight behind the effort to raise the minimum wage.

The lawmakers held a press conference Thursday afternoon to introduce the bill.

Raising the minimum wage would be “so terrific,” Reid said.

“This is about Americans aspiring to the middle class, helping them get there,” Pelosi added.

The federal minimum wage is currently $7.25 an hour; it hasn’t been raised since 2009.

The Raise the Wage Act would initially raise the minimum wage to $8 an hour, followed by $1-increases each year after that until it reaches $12 in 2020.

The legislation would also phase out an exemption for restaurants and other companies that allows them to pay tipped workers less than the minimum wage.

President Obama is “enthusiastic” about raising the minimum wage, Perez said.

“Every president except two since FDR has signed an increase in the minimum wage,” Perez said.