Congress Introduces Bill to Raise the Minimum Wage

On April 30, lawmakers in both houses of Congress introduced legislation that would raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $12 per hour by 2020. The bill would especially help women, African Americans, Latinos, and other historically underserved populations who are disproportionately represented in minimum wage jobs.

Economists project that the proposal would increase wages for nearly 38 million Americans and would pump billions of dollars into our economy, benefiting both families and local businesses. It would also benefit 32 percent of women, 37 percent of African Americans, and 40 percent of Hispanics in the labor force.

“Today’s unconscionably low minimum wage is far from enough to support a family’s most basic needs, and raising the minimum wage is popular and fair,” said Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “CEOs and many salaried workers receive regular cost of living increases, and so should people who most need every dollar they earn.”

The Raise the Wage Act, introduced by Sen. Patty Murray, D. Wash., and Rep. Bobby Scott, D. Va., would also adjust the minimum wage each year to keep up with the rising cost of living and gradually phase out the subminimum wage for tipped workers, which hasn’t budged in nearly a quarter century.

Raising the minimum wage has overwhelming support across the country, with a national poll finding that 75 percent of Americans support raising the minimum wage to at least $12. In many states, voters have approved – by wide margins – ballot initiatives increasing their state minimum wages.

“Congress must follow their example and give Americans the long-overdue raise they deserve,” Henderson said.