House Democrats are moving forward with legislation that would raise the federal minimum wage to…

House Democrats are moving forward with legislation that would raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour, despite concerns from centrist lawmakers about the impact on lower-cost areas.
Democratic leaders say theyre close to clinching the 218 votes needed to pass the bill, which they expect to bring to the floor in July.
All but 29 of the 235 Democratic lawmakers in the House have cosponsored the measure. Many of the holdouts are moderates who are concerned that a significant wage boost in a short period of time could have an unintended effect in more rural settings.
I am concerned about the fact that $15 is an arbitrary number that means a lot more in certain parts of the country than it does another, said Rep. Dean PhillipsDean PhillipsGOP leader, Ocasio-Cortez give boost to lawmaker pay hikeGOP leader, Ocasio-Cortez give boost to lawmaker pay hikeAnnual ‘Will on the Hill’ pokes fun at 2020 raceMORE (D-Minn.), who flipped a seat in 2018 that had been held by Republicans for years.
I believe there are better mechanisms by which we can ensure that by providing incentives to enterprises who take better care of people, Phillips said, adding that he was on the fence about supporting the bill.
The legislation would raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 within five years and index future increases to median wage growth.
Raising the minimum wage has been a staple of Democratic policy for years. But Congress has only voted twice in the past two decades to increase the minimum wage, and it has been stagnant at its current rate since 2009.
Many Democrats argue that raising the minimum wage is key to helping workers and reducing poverty, while also lowering dependence on government welfare programs.
But other Democrats argue that in a country as economically diverse as the United States, an across-the-board base wage doesnt make sense.
The minimum wage in San Francisco should probably be $30 an hour, OK? But the minimum wage in West Virginia or Arkansas is a different story, said freshman Rep. Jeff Van DrewJeff Van DrewHouse Democrats pull legislation that would give lawmakers raiseDemocrat offers measure to prevent lawmakers from sleeping in their officesRepublicans attempt to amend retirement savings bill to include anti-BDS languageMORE (D-N.J.), whose state recently moved to raise the minimum wage to $15 by 2024.
Businesses have also raised concerns about increasing labor costs in places that have a lower cost of living.
Fifteen dollars in New York City is not the same as $15 in Oklahoma City, said Shannon Meade, vice president of public policy at the National Restaurant Association, a group that has raised red flags about a provision in the bill to gradually move tipped workers over to minimum wage.
Raising it too soon or too high will hurt small businesses, force a reduction in hours available to work and potentially put restaurants out of business, she said.
Van Drew acknowledged that hes heard from business interests in his state and elsewhere that dont love raising the minimum wage to $15. At the same time, he said establishing a national standard would ensure that states like his arent at a disadvantage if a neighboring state — Pennsylvania, in his case — has a lower minimum wage.
There are folks in my state that feel, ‘Well, gee, if we’ve got to put up with it, we have it already, let’s compete on an equal footing and let every state have it, Van Drew said.
For now, Van Drew said he is leaning toward voting for the bill but wants to ensure it doesnt negatively impact the minimum wage policies in New Jersey — concerns he has expressed to leadership.
So my sense is, not my absolute promise, but my sense is that I would vote for it. I just have to continue to finish that evaluation that we’re going through right now, Van Drew said.
Progressives such as Rep. Mark PocanMark William PocanOvernight Health Care: Democratic bill would require insurance to cover OTC birth control | House Dems vote to overturn ban on fetal tissue research | New rule aims to expand health choices for small businesses Overnight Health Care: Democratic bill would require insurance to cover OTC birth control | House Dems vote to overturn ban on fetal tissue research | New rule aims to expand health choices for small businesses House Democrats vote to overturn Trump ban on fetal tissue research MORE (D-Wis.), who co-chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus, dispute that incremental minimum wage hikes have negative effects on businesses and employment.
Every time we’ve raised the minimum wage in Wisconsin, we’ve had more people enter the job market and businesses have done fine, he said.
Progressives won over some moderate Democrats with the promise of a Government Accountability Office study to measure the effects of the wage increase on businesses, Pocan said.
A senior Democratic aide said that leadership is discussing with members a number of amendments, including one that would study the impact on small businesses, as they work to clinch 218 votes.
Some Democrats have suggested allowing lower-cost parts of the country to raise the minimum wage more slowly, an approach that would be achieved by a bill Rep. Terri SewellTerrycina (Terri) Andrea SewellOn The Money: House to vote on minimum wage this summer | Sanders doubles down on democratic socialism | May deficit surges | Democrat puts hold on Treasury nominees in fight over Trump tax returnsOn The Money: House to vote on minimum wage this summer | Sanders doubles down on democratic socialism | May deficit surges | Democrat puts hold on Treasury nominees in fight over Trump tax returnsHouse to vote on minimum wage by AugustMORE (D-Ala.) introduced in April.
But House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby ScottRobert (Bobby) Cortez ScottSanders seizes 2020 megaphone to attack companies over minimum wageSanders seizes 2020 megaphone to attack companies over minimum wageTrump calls Pelosi a ‘disgrace’ after she says he should be ‘in prison’MORE (D-Va.) suggested that establishing a minimum wage on a regional basis wouldnt be feasible.
There would be some congressional districts with three minimum wages. Some franchises would have minimum wages in different restaurants, Scott said. The more you think about it, the less it works.
Even if Democrats muster the votes to pass the bill in the House, there is little chance that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellLouise Linton, wife of Treasury Secretary Mnuchin, addresses past controversies in new interviewSenate rejects effort to block Trump’s Qatar, Bahrain arms salesSenate rejects effort to block Trump’s Qatar, Bahrain arms salesMORE (R-Ky.) would bring it up for a vote.
Democrats such as Phillips argue that if Democrats want their bill signed into law, an alternative approach is needed to win over Republicans. 
I think there’s a way to build bridges with Republicans, especially business owners, who recognize that the intersection here is encouraging through incentives and, and encouraging employee ownership, he said. 
In the meantime, proponents of raising the minimum wage nationally are focused on getting enough House Democrats on board for the floor vote. 
Rep. Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalOvernight Health Care: Democratic bill would require insurance to cover OTC birth control | House Dems vote to overturn ban on fetal tissue research | New rule aims to expand health choices for small businesses Overnight Health Care: Democratic bill would require insurance to cover OTC birth control | House Dems vote to overturn ban on fetal tissue research | New rule aims to expand health choices for small businesses Jayapal opens up about her own abortion in NY Times op-edMORE (D-Wash.), a Progressive Caucus co-chair, said there are some Democrats who arent cosponsors of the bill but have committed to voting for it.
We believe that we have the votes, Jayapal said. We’re there, we just need to bring the bill to the floor now.

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