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Sanders, Democrats introduce $15 minimum wage bill

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is teaming up with top congressional Democrats to try to raise the federal minimum wage to $15, a move that has divided Democrats for years.

Sanders, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) - the top Democrat on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee - and 28 other Democratic senators introduced the Senate legislation on Thursday.

The bill would increase the federal minimum wage, currently at $7.25, to $15 by 2024, and tie future increases to national median wage growth. It would also gradually eliminate the current exception to the minimum wage for tipped workers.

"Just a few short years ago, we were told that raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour was 'radical,' " Sanders said. "Our job in the wealthiest country in the history of the world is to make sure that every worker has at least a modest and decent standard of living."

With Thursday's legislation, a majority of Senate Democrats now support a $15 federal minimum wage bill. Reps. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) and Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) also introduced the bill in the House with 152 co-sponsors.

Red-state Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Jon Tester (Mont.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.) and Joe Donnelly (Ind.) - each up for reelection in 2018 - are among the 17 Senate Democrats not signed on to the bill.

Democrats included the $15 minimum wage in their 2016 platform, but the issue sparked tension between presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and progressives such as Sanders.

Clinton said during a debate against Sanders that she would sign a $15 minimum wage bill if she won the White House, which seemed to conflict with her support for a $12 minimum wage. She added that she believes a $12 minimum wage should be the floor while also "encouraging others to get to $15."

When Sanders introduced a similar bill in 2015, he only garnered five supporters. Murray introduced a bill in 2015 to raise the minimum wage to $12, in line with Clinton, which got the support of 33 Democrats.

Tom Perez, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, also voiced support for the bill on Thursday, saying Democrats are helping "American workers break free from a rigged economy that favors our wealthiest citizens while squeezing the middle class."

No GOP lawmakers have backed the push for a $15 minimum wage, and Schumer specifically called out President Trump to support their proposal.

"If Republicans and President Trump are truly serious about standing up for workers, they'll join us in fighting for a $15 minimum wage. ... We're going to continue fighting tooth and nail for this," he said.

Trump signaled during the campaign that he would support a $10 minimum wage but also indicated that the decision should be left up to states.

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