House passes bill to raise minimum wage to $15 per hour

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi D-Calif. holds a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington Wednesday

A $15 minimum wage will hurt those it intends to help (letter to the editor)

The move comes at a time when the $15 minimum wage fight, first started by fast-food workers in NY in 2012, has been gaining momentum around the country with several states and large private-sector employers that hire entry-level workers. Harvard Business School and Mathematica Policy Research found a spike in restaurant closures as a effect of San Francisco's rapidly rising minimum wage.

A $15 federal minimum wage will only hurt those it intends to help, ending thousands of starter job opportunities and often wiping out the businesses that provide them. Over the past year, employers like Inc (AMZN.O) and Costco Wholesale Corp (COST.O) have raised their base wages to $15 an hour while others like Target Corp (TGT.N) have committed to going up to that level by the end of 2020. Companies like McDonald's and Walmart stopped lobbying against raising the federal minimum wage, and Amazon adopted a $15 minimum past year.

Four years ago, @KeithEllison and I rallied with low wage workers for an increase in the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Just a few Republicans joined most all Democrats in passage, on a 231-199 vote. It has remained unchanged since 2009.

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The Congressional Budget Office estimated that a $15 minimum wage hike would raise wages for more than a million workers, but would also result in the loss of up to 3.7 million jobs and a reduction of total family income by about $9 billion by 2025. However, it delivers a long sought victory to liberals and allows Democratic presidential hopefuls to attract more working class Americans with a promise to tackle growing economic inequality in the country, a key campaign issue for many candidates.

A report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office predicted that approximately 30 million people would see higher earnings as a result of the bill, bringing more than one million out of poverty. Democratic Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland said raising the wage is the "right thing to do".

'This is a historic day, ' said Speaker Nancy Pelosi, adding this is about 33 million people in the country getting a raise.

"If Senator McConnell wants to vote against that bill and explain to the people of Kentucky why he believes a $7.25 minimum wage is acceptable to him that is his prerogative", Sanders reiterated in his statement on Thursday. Can you?,' she said.

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A poll released this week found only 20 percent of Americans think raising the minimum wage is worth the economic consequences.

House Democrats started the process of passing a bill in March, but struggled to get support from more moderate members. But in its current form, the bill has no major support from the Republican side.

Passage was assured after centrists won concessions for a slower phase-in, over six years instead of five.

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