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

Republican Sens. Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonRepublicans blast Pentagon policy nominee over tweets, Iran nuclear deal The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Lawmakers face Capitol threat as senators line up votes for relief bill Garland's AG nomination delayed by GOP roadblocks MORE (Ark.) and Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyRon Johnson grinds Senate to halt, irritating many Romney's TRUST Act is a Trojan Horse to cut seniors' benefits Republicans, please save your party 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 BidenTrump State Department appointee arrested in connection with Capitol riot FireEye finds evidence Chinese hackers exploited Microsoft email app flaw since January Biden officials to travel to border amid influx of young migrants 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 SandersABC names new deputy political director, weekend White House correspondent Ron Johnson forces reading of 628-page Senate coronavirus relief bill on floor GOP pulling out all the stops to delay COVID-19 package 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.