House to vote on $15 minimum wage by August

House to vote on $15 minimum wage by August
© Greg Nash

The House will vote on the first federal minimum wage increase in over a decade this July, The Hill has confirmed

The legislation to be considered is the Raise the Wage Act backed by the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC). It would more than double the $7.25 minimum wage to $15 by 2024. The current minimum wage has been in place since July of 2009.

Congress actually passed that wage hike in 2007.

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"Democrats ran on raising wages for American workers, and this remains a top priority for us," Mariel Saez, a spokesperson for House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerThe case for congressional pay raises Approve USMCA before it's too late Lawmakers push to permanently ban automatic pay raises for members of Congress MORE (D-Md.), told The Hill.

"Mr. Hoyer brought the last minimum wage increase to the floor, and he is working to bring the Raise the Wage Act to the House Floor for a vote in July," she added.

The Democratic caucus has been divided on whether to advance a $15 minimum wage bill or one that would provide for regional differences to create a tiered minimum wage. 

As a result, the bill could divide some Democrats when it comes to the floor. 

The legislation would boost wages in three steps, starting with an increase to $8.55 this year. It would also take steps to link the minimum wage after 2024 to typical worker’s wages, an attempt to ensure that the minimum doesn’t remain stagnant over long periods.

In addition, the bill would also phase out the $2.13 minimum wage for tipped workers, meaning employers would eventually have to pay employees such as waiters the full minimum wage, though they could still collect tips.

Currently, employers are supposed to pay out the difference if a tipped employee makes less than minimum wage, but critics say that doesn't always happen.

Democratic critics of the plan say it would hit small businesses hard in parts of the country that have a lower cost of living.

“The cost of living in Selma, Ala., is very different than New York City,” said Rep. Terri SewellTerrycina (Terri) Andrea SewellCentrist Democrats raise concerns over minimum wage push Centrist Democrats raise concerns over minimum wage push On The Money: House to vote on minimum wage this summer | Sanders doubles down on democratic socialism | May deficit surges | Democrat puts hold on Treasury nominees in fight over Trump tax returns MORE (D-Ala.), who has sponsored the PHASE in $15 Wage Act, which allows for regional cost of living differences to the minimum wage.

Pushing the wage too high too quickly, she argued, would force businesses to lay off workers.

Supporters of the bill say they are confident it will pass the House. 

"Now we believe we have the votes to get it done. It's time to bring it to the floor, and we are asking leadership to make sure to schedule the vote on this before the July 4 recess," said CPC co-chair Rep. Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalCentrist Democrats raise concerns over minimum wage push Centrist Democrats raise concerns over minimum wage push Overnight Health Care: Democratic bill would require insurance to cover OTC birth control | House Dems vote to overturn ban on fetal tissue research | New rule aims to expand health choices for small businesses MORE (D-Wash.).

A study by the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute said the act would result in a pay increase for 38.1 percent of African American workers and 23.2 percent of white workers.  

The legislation would likely have a difficult time passing through a Senate controlled by Republicans, but could also become a campaign issue in 2020. 

Getting the bill to the floor will be a victory for the left wing of the Democratic Party and the CPC.

In 2016, Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersTrump hits polling on Fox News: 'Something weird going on at Fox' Trump hits polling on Fox News: 'Something weird going on at Fox' 2020 Democrats look to cut into Biden's lead with black voters MORE (I-Vt.) made a $15 minimum wage a central part of his campaign, pushing his primary rival Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonBroadway play 'Hillary and Clinton' closing early due to low ticket sales Broadway play 'Hillary and Clinton' closing early due to low ticket sales Facing challenge from Warren, Sanders touts strength against Trump MORE to the left on the issue. Sanders sponsored the Senate version of the bill, which has 31 co-sponsors.  

Updated 7:45 p.m.