The House of Representatives passed legislation on Thursday that doubles the federally mandated minimum wage to $15 per hour.
The Raise The Wage Act, or H.R. 582, passed by a vote of 231-199, largely along party lines. If enacted, the required minimum wage would increase for the first time in more than a decade, up from its current rate of $7.25 per hour.
The bill was amended days prior to the vote after moderate Democrats expressed concern over the short phase-in period. Accordingly, the increased minimum wage requirement would be phased in over a six-year period, reported The Hill. As a result, the legislation represents a compromise between centrist Democrats and the more progressive wing of the party.
Three Republicans — Pennsylvania Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, Florida Rep. Francis Rooney, and New Jersey Rep. Chris Smith — crossed party lines to vote in favor of the bill. Six Democrats — New Jersey Rep. Anthony Brindisi, South Caroline Rep. Joe Cunningham, Oklahoma Rep. Kendra Horn, Utah Rep. Ben McAdams, Oregon Rep. Kurt Schrader, and New Mexico Rep. Xochiti Torres Small — voted in opposition.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell declined to advance the bill in the Senate.
“Research shows that hiking the minimum wage to $15 would kill jobs and depress the economy at a time when it’s thriving for the American people,” McConnell said following the House vote. “We are not going to be taking that up in the Senate.”
Regardless, the Democrat-backed wage increase would have been unlikely to pass in the Republican-led Senate.
A report from the Congressional Budget Office published earlier in July confirmed Republicans' contention, estimating that up to 3.7 million Americans would lose their jobs if the minimum wage hit $15 per hour by 2025.
Moreover, the Employment Policies Institute conducted a survey in February showing that 74% of working economists opposed raising the federal minimum wage to $15 — with nearly half of those surveyed, or 43%, believing that a federal minimum wage should be completely eliminated.
Following the vote, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi held a press conference celebrating the Democrats' win.
“We’ve got to wake up every morning with a big smile on our face and show the world all the love in our hearts, and that love in our hearts is about fairness and respect and valuing work,” Pelosi said to the crowd. “House Democrats are here to deliver on the promise to the American people to give hard-working men and women a well-deserved raise."
Sen. Bernie Sanders, a longstanding advocate of a $15 minimum wage, tweeted his support for the legislation.
“Four years ago, [then Democratic Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison] and I rallied with low-wage workers for an increase in the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour,” Sanders tweeted. “We were laughed at. We were told it was unrealistic. We were told it wouldn’t happen. Not anymore.”
“Remember when $15 an hour was 'radical?' Not so radical anymore thanks to the people fighting for a living wage,” Sanders added in a separate tweet.