Some Senate Republicans say they agree that Americans working for minimum wage need a raise, offering a compromise proposal as Democrats say they’re “united” in pushing a federal $15 minimum wage through both houses of Congress.
In an op-ed published Monday by Fox News, Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Ut.) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) defended their legislative effort introduced last month, calling Democrats’ proposal “an unserious scheme.”
“Their plan doesn’t have the votes to pass, and even if it did, a $15 minimum wage would destroy 1.4 million jobs, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office,” the two senators wrote in the piece.
“To make matters worse, some of the gains from this higher minimum wage would go to illegal immigrants working in jobs that would have otherwise gone to Americans and other legal workers.”
The GOP bill, which would gradually raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10 starting one year after the official end of the coronavirus pandemic, would phase in the new wages over a five year period for most businesses and six years for businesses with less than 20 employees.
Romney and Cotton said their bill, which was introduced last month, would also address concerns about illegal immigrants taking jobs under the table by mandating that companies utilize a currently optional program to verify workers’ legal status.
“Our bill would protect jobs for American workers by requiring employers to use the E-Verify system to ensure that businesses cannot hire illegal immigrants. Businesses already use E-Verify millions of times each year, but participation is voluntary in most states.”
Outside of Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), a moderate swing vote in a 50-50 Senate, all Democrats in the body support a $15 federal minimum wage, leaving Romney and Cotton unlikely to receive a lot of interest from the other side of the aisle.
Only one Senate Republican backs the Democratic-led effort to raise the minimum wage to $15: Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.).
The Senate parliamentarian decided last week that a federal wage hike could not be included in budget reconciliation, the method by which Democrats were attempting to pass President Biden’s $1.9 trillion relief bill.
The House of Representatives, led by Democrats, decided it would still include the provision in their language for the bill, despite it having no chance of being included in the final language.
While the bill will move forward without the $15 minimum wage provision, Democrats are not giving up on their effort for a federal wage hike.
Speaking to NBC’s “Meet the Press” this Sunday, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Oh.) said that Democrats still intended to deliver on their $15 minimum wage campaign promise.
“Democrats are united in giving a raise. We’re going to raise wages. We’re going to find a way to. We’re going to make attempts; we’re going to find a way to. It’s just too important not to,” the Ohio pol said.
“We will figure out a way to do this because, again, Democrats are united in raising wages. The corporate elite, the far-right elite in Washington have blocked it year after year, after year, after year, and we’re going to make it happen,” he added.
Speaking to reporters Friday, House Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) said the matter would be addressed before the 2022 midterm elections.
“How many months do we have left, 20-something months?” he asked, “I guarantee you there’ll be a raise in the minimum wage before the election.
“Hold me to it.”