Politics

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Congessmen At Odds Over Minimum Wage Bill

July 19, 2019

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a Thursday vote of 231 to 199 with three not voting, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 582, the Raise the Wage Act, which looks to gradually increase the federal minimum wage to $15 by 2025, up from $7.25.

Three Republicans voted in favor of the bill while six Democrats voted against. U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-13, supported the bill, estimating 128,800 in his district would see an increase in wages if the bill becomes law, according to a release from his office.

“Hard-working families have gone without an increase in the federal minimum wage for more than a decade – the longest stretch in history,” Ryan said in the release. “Too many Americans are working multiple jobs to make ends meet, 40% cannot withstand a $400 medical emergency, and nearly 80% are living paycheck to paycheck. No person should have to live like this in the richest country in the world.”

A study by the Economic Policy Institute reports the Raise the Wage Act would benefit 39.7 million workers, including 23.8 million full-time workers, 23 million women, 11.2 million parents and 5.4 million single parents.

Estimates by the Congressional Budget Office aren’t as high, with the CBO reporting the bill would directly boost wages for 17 million workers and potentially increase the wages of another 10.3 million, while costing the jobs of an estimated 1.3 million.

According to the bill’s text, the hourly minimum wage would increase to $8.55 on the effective date, followed by annual incremental increases for the next five years. The minimum wage hasn’t increased since 2009.

If signed into the law, the act would also lift 1.3 million American out of poverty, according to Ryan’s office. Ryan also supported an amendment requiring the Government Accountability Office, in consultation with specified experts, to submit a report to Congress on the economic and employment impacts of the four minimum wage increases specified in the bill – standard, tipped, youth, and 14(C) – after the second wage increase and before the third wage increase.

“Today, the House is keeping its promise to the American people by passing landmark legislation to raise the minimum wage and increase pay for 33 million American workers, including nearly 130,000 workers in Northeast Ohio,” Ryan said in the release. “It’s long overdue, and a much needed first step. But we shouldn’t stop here, we need to keep fighting for jobs that pay $30, $40 and $50 an hour.”

U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, R-16 Pennsylvania, voted against the bill, stating in a release that, if passed, the Raise the Wage Act would have “unintended consequences.

“It will lead to fewer jobs available and more Americans sitting at home rather than working to provide for themselves and their families,” Kelly said in the release. “Two years ago, Republicans passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act without the support of a single Democrat. Since then, millions of jobs have been created and wages have risen significantly. The best economic policies for our country are those that let Americans keep their hard-earned money.”

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.