Biden to seek $15 minimum wage in COVID-19 proposal
President-elect Joe Biden will include a proposal to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 as part of a COVID-19 relief package, the first major legislation of his presidency.
Biden is expected to announce the wage push, a mainstay of the Democratic Party since Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) popularized it during his 2016 presidential bid, in a Thursday evening speech outlining the broader $1.9 trillion relief proposal.
The federal minimum wage has been stuck at $7.25 since 2009, though several states and municipalities have implemented their own increases.
Democrats argue that the stagnant rate is one reason why wages overall have shown little sign of improvement over the past 12 years.
Republicans counter that increases in the minimum wage would put pressure on businesses and eventually lead to higher unemployment.
A 2019 report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found that gradually increasing the minimum wage to $15 through 2025 would raise incomes for 17 million people, and lift millions out of poverty. But it also estimated that 1.3 million people would be jobless as a result.
Biden’s proposal does not spell out a timeline for raising the minimum wage.
Vast disparities in the cost of living across the country mean have prompted some lawmakers to argue that increases should be more localized.
Twenty states raised their minimum wage on Jan. 1, and some localities have already set their required rates above $15 an hour.
The House in 2019 passed legislation that would raise the minimum wage to $15 by 2025. The 231-199 vote cut largely along party lines.
The GOP-controlled Senate did not take up the measure.