Cotton, Romney introduce bill pairing minimum wage increase with immigration employment eligibility

Republican Sens. Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Altria - House debt vote today; Biden struggles to unite Arkansas legislature splits Little Rock in move that guarantees GOP seats The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Senate nears surprise deal on short-term debt ceiling hike MORE (Ark.) and Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyDefense & National Security — Military starts giving guidance on COVID-19 vaccine refusals Blinken pressed to fill empty post overseeing 'Havana syndrome' GOP rallies around Manchin, Sinema MORE (Utah) announced on Tuesday that they will be introducing a bill that would increase the minimum wage while also requiring employers to verify the employment eligibility of immigrant workers.

“Millions of Americans are struggling to make ends meet. I’m introducing a bill with @SenTomCotton that would increase the minimum wage while ensuring businesses cannot hire illegal immigrants. We must protect American workers,” Romney tweeted.

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“Congress hasn’t raised the minimum wage in more than a decade, leaving many Americans behind,” Romney continued. “Our proposal gradually raises the minimum wage without costing jobs, setting it to increase automatically with inflation, and requires employers to verify the legal status of workers.”

Cotton added in a tweet that the wage increase in his and Romney’s bill would not go into effect until “after the pandemic has ended.” The bill would also include “protection for small businesses,” according to Cotton.

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Specific details on the bill have yet to be unveiled. Spokespeople for both senators told The Hill that the bill would be rolling out next week.

Calls for the minimum wage to be raised to $15 an hour have grown as President BidenJoe BidenJill Biden campaigns for McAuliffe in Virginia Fill the Eastern District of Virginia  Biden: Those who defy Jan. 6 subpoenas should be prosecuted MORE assumed office in January amid a continued economic crisis brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. Increasing the minimum wage had been one of Biden's campaign promises.

Biden recently acknowledged that a $15 minimum wage hike would likely not pass as part of his proposed $1.9 trillion stimulus plan, though he said he would include a wage increase in a separate piece of legislation.

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Democratic lawmakers have pushed to raise the minimum to $15 an hour gradually by 2025 before linking it to inflation, more than doubling it from $7.25 where it has stood since 2009.

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders, Manchin escalate fight over .5T spending bill Sanders blames media for Americans not knowing details of Biden spending plan Briahna Joy Gray: Proposals favored by Black voters 'first at the chopping block' in spending talks MORE (I-Vt.) has shot down reports that the minimum wage increase will be left behind, insisting that it will be passed through budget reconciliation.

-- Updated 2/22/2021 to reflect clarification of the bill's intent.