House votes to raise federal hourly minimum wage to $15
July 18 (UPI) — The House passed legislation Thursday to gradually raise the federal hourly minimum wage — which has been at $7.25 for a decade — to $15 by 2025.
House members voted 231-199 in favor of the “Raise the Wage Act.” Just three Republicans — Reps. Francis Rooney of Florida, Chris Smith of New Jersey and Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania — joined Democrats in approval. Six Democrats — Reps. Joe Cunningham of South Carolina, Anthony Brindisi of New York, Kendra Horn of Oklahoma, Kurt Schrader of Oregon, Xochitl Torres Small of New Mexico and Ben McAdams of Utah — voted against the proposal.
The bill aims to amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, but will face a tough road in the GOP-controlled Senate. Thursday was the first time the House has moved to raise the federal minimum since 2007, which raised it to $7.25. Most states, however, have set minimums far beyond that level.
The vote occurred after much debate between progressives and centrists to reach a compromise — over issues of hike size, timeline and flexibility.
A Congressional Budget Office study this month projected raising the federal minimum to $15 would raise wages for 17 million workers and lift 1.3 million people out of poverty — but cost another 1.3 million their jobs. The analysis cited a two-thirds chance the difference in employment would fall between no lost jobs and 3.7 million lost jobs.
Thursday’s vote is a win for progressives and puts centrists in line with the Fight for $15 campaign many of the party’s presidential candidates have embraced.
Some critics of the bill argue the cost will be greater than the benefit.
“House Democrats showed that they put party politics over jobs by voting for an unprecedented wage mandate which even the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office shows could eliminate up to 3.7 million jobs,” Samantha Summers, communications director of the Employment Policies Institute, a conservative nonprofit think tank, said. “This bill will only hurt those it is intended to help by killing jobs and forcing businesses to close.”