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Photo by Erin Scott/pool/AFP via Getty Images.

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) is jumping on the minimum wage bandwagon and will introduce an alternative to Democrats' proposal on Wednesday that would use federal dollars to increase low-earning workers' income, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Hawley, a Trump-style Republican who's considered a likely 2024 presidential contender, is breaking with the mainstream GOP orthodoxy in suggesting that he believes the federal minimum wage is too low.

  • He's known now for his role in objecting to the certification of President Biden's election, but as a likely 2024 candidate, his proposal is worth watching for what it says about the shifts in Republican ideas.

The politics: Hawley plans to pitch "The Blue Collar Bonus" as a populist, pro-worker proposal.

  • Hawley's team estimates it would likely cost roughly $200 billion, something traditional Republicans will balk at, though it hasn't been officially scored.
  • Hawley told Axios he also would support a $15 minimum wage for workers of large corporations that generate at least $1 billion in annual revenue.
  • The measure would also benefit low-wage workers who have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

The bill: Hawley is proposing a three-year program that would increase worker wages in 2021, paid by taxpayers rather than employers.

  • Those making below $16.50 per hour would receive a refundable tax credit worth 50% of the difference, paid out in quarterly installments. The $16.50 could increase over time, as it would be tied to the Consumer Price Index.
  • The credit would only apply to 40 hours or less of weekly work.
  • Only American workers with valid Social Security numbers would be eligible, meaning non-U.S. citizens and undocumented immigrants would be excluded.

Between the lines: Hawley's plan would immediately be implemented in the 2021 tax year, expiring in 2024.

  • The Democrats' plan to increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour would be phased in by 2025. Same for a $10 per hour proposal released Tuesday by GOP Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.).
  • Biden has promised to promote a standalone bill to raise the minimum wage.

What he's saying: "The bill is targeting folks who are making $34,000-$35,000 a year and less," Hawley said. "This is targeted toward people who have been the hardest hit, who are trying to get back on their feet."

  • "Federal policy has helped create, over the last 30-40 years, flatlined wages for blue collar workers," he added. "We need to have a broader discussion about a number of those policy choices. A lot of it has to do with our trade policies, and the policies that we pursued with globalization, that have been very bad choices."

Foreseeable problems: The subsidy would disproportionally benefit those in states that have kept their minimum wages low.

  • It's also an incredibly complicated bill, which could make it difficult for workers to properly estimate their take-home.

What's next: The Senate parliamentarian will decide as early as today whether Democrats’ provision can be included in the COVID stimulus package and voted on through budget reconciliation.

Go deeper

GOP senators unveil $10 minimum wage hike proposal

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.

JPMorgan Chase to push for policy changes

Photo: Bing Guan/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The JPMorgan Chase Institute — the bank's internal think tank of sorts — and its new policy arm are pushing for policy changes for the first time, the company shared exclusively with Axios.

Why it matters: The institute is sending its recommendations to Washington, as Congress hashes out a pandemic stimulus package.

Feb 24, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Exclusive: Bernie ready to roll on roads

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Senate Democrats are readying to pass President Biden’s infrastructure package through the budget reconciliation process, a recognition they're unlikely to get much Republican support for a potential $2 trillion package.

Driving the news: Sen. Bernie Sanders told Axios on Tuesday he’s consulted with the White House about how to prepare for the next round of spending, and he's ready to do it immediately via reconciliation — a process he controls as chair of the Senate Budget Committee.