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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 HoyerTop Democrats introduce resolution calling for mask mandate, testing program in Senate Trump orders aides to halt talks on COVID-19 relief This week: Coronavirus complicates Senate's Supreme Court fight 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 SewellCentury of the Woman: The State of Women and Voting Rights Female lawmakers, officials call for more women at all levels of government to improve equity The Hill's 12:30 Report - Sponsored by The Air Line Pilots Association - Country reacts to debate night of mudslinging 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 JayapalOcasio-Cortez, progressives call on Senate not to confirm lobbyists or executives to future administration posts Pocan won't seek another term as Progressive Caucus co-chair Poll shows Biden leading Trump, tight House race in key Nebraska district 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 SandersThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Goldman Sachs - Tipping point week for Trump, Biden, Congress, voters Biden and Schumer face battles with left if Democrats win big Push to expand Supreme Court faces Democratic buzzsaw MORE (I-Vt.) made a $15 minimum wage a central part of his campaign, pushing his primary rival Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonLate night hosts targeted Trump over Biden 97 percent of the time in September: study 10 steps toward better presidential debating Continuity is (mostly) on the menu for government contracting in the next administration 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.