Feb 23, 2021 - Politics & Policy

GOP senators unveil $10 minimum wage hike proposal

Mitt Romney
Photo: Michael Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images

Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Mitt Romney (R-Utah) on Tuesday unveiled the details of their proposal to raise the minimum wage to $10 an hour by 2025.

Why it matters: The Republican proposal comes as Congressional Democrats are pushing for a bill, backed by President Joe Biden and included in the broader $1.9 trillion stimulus package, that would increase the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025.

Details: In addition to gradually increasing the federal minimum wage and youth minimum wage each year after the "COVID-19 emergency," Romney and Cotton's proposal would mandate E-Verify for all employers to ensure the rising wages go to "legally authorized workers."

Driving the news: The Senate parliamentarian will decide as early Tuesday whether the Democrats’ minimum wage measure can be included in the relief package and voted on through a budget reconciliation process, which means it will only need a simple majority to pass.

  • If it’s not included in the larger bill, it's very likely any increase in the minimum wage will need to have bipartisan support.

Be smart: Democrats have long pushed for an incremental minimum wage hike to $15 an hour, but the president has said that he doesn’t expect the provision to survive negotiations — especially after two moderate Democrats came out against including the measure in the massive relief package.

  • Biden has promised to promote a standalone bill to raise the minimum wage.
  • The $10 an hour proposal by Republicans could act as a first step to compromise in passing a separate bill, but it's unlikely that Democrats will accept the provisions related to undocumented immigrants.

By the numbers: The federal minimum wage has been $7.25 per hour since 2009, which amounts to about $15,000 per year at 40-hour weeks.

  • The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office released a study earlier this month that found that the $15 federal minimum wage bill would cut jobs for 1.4 million workers by 2025. Subsequently, it would lift 900,000 people out of poverty.
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