WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — Democrats in the House and Senate are introducing a bill to gradually raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2025, as Congress gets ready to consider another round of coronavirus stimulus.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Democratic Rep. Bobby Scott, chair of the House Committee on Education and Labor, announced the Raise the Wage Act of 2021 on Tuesday, along with Sen. Patty Murray and Reps. Pramila Jayapal and Stephanie Murphy.
The legislation would gradually increase the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 per hour over five years, which lawmakers say would give nearly 32 million Americans a raise.
After that, the federal minimum wage would be indexed to median wage growth in an effort to ensure its value doesn’t “erode over time,” according to a fact sheet on the bill.
The U.S. hasn’t seen a federal minimum wage increase since 2009, when it became $7.25 an hour.
“The time for talk is over,” Sanders said in a statement on Twitter. “No more excuses. We can no longer tolerate millions of workers making starvation wages.”
The legislation also phases out the subminimum wage for tipped workers, which legislators say will guarantee “decent, consistent pay without eliminating tips.”
Increasing the hourly minimum wage to $15 was also part of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan, which also calls for $1,400 stimulus checks for more Americans and a moratorium on evictions. The introduction of the minimum wage legislation raises the possibility that lawmakers could take a more piecemeal approach to virus relief.
The plan is facing stiff opposition from Republicans who believe the price tag is too high. GOP senators pushed back against measures including the minimum wage boost during the confirmation hearing of Janet Yellen, who was confirmed as Biden’s treasury secretary on Monday.
Yellen told senators that the administration’s focus would be on willing quick passage of the coronavirus relief plan, warning of the risk of “a longer, more painful recession” as well as “long-term scarring of the economy.”
Republican Sen. Charles Grassley, of Iowa, told Yellen that Biden’s plan represented a “laundry list of liberal structural economic reforms.”
GOP lawmakers have long been opposed to such measures. In 2019, only three Republicans voted for a similar minimum wage hike in the House of Representatives.
You can read the full act below.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.