The House passed (231-199) the Raise the Wage Act (H.R. 582), a bill that would increase the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour and index it to inflation. The bill would also phase out the lower minimum wage for tipped workers — such as restaurant servers and valets — which has been $2.13 an hour since 1996. The last time Congress voted to increase the minimum wage was in 2007, and it went into effect in 2009. The measure now goes to the Senate.
Proponents argue the bill would help women and workers of color and that a 10 percent increase in minimum wage would increase business sales in the economy by $2 billion each year. That if passed, 40 million people would get a raise of about $3,500 by 2024.
Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA): “No person working full-time in America should be living in poverty. The Raise the Wage Act will increase the pay and standard of living for nearly 40 million workers across this country. Raising the minimum wage is not only good for workers, it is good for businesses, and good for the economy. When we put money in the pockets of American workers, they will spend that money in their communities. This bill is a stimulus for Main Street America.”
Opponents argue that increasing the minimum wage would place an undue hardship and burden on employers. The measure would lead to employers hiring fewer workers in entry level positions, which are often stepping stones to better careers. In addition, it might also cause companies to invest in automated processes and technologies to increase productivity in a cost-effective manner rather that investing in human resources.
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN): “For the government to fix wages is not the way to give the largest number of Americans a good living wage. The way to do it is the way we’re doing it: cut taxes, reduce regulations, improve the economy, and wages go up.” Opponents also point out that raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour would cause the price of goods and services to go up, as well as, lead to hiring freezes and layoffs.