Democrats seek to advance $15 minimum wage proposal

With Democrats now in control of the House of Representatives, a committee is set to hear arguments regarding one of the party’s hottest proposals in the run up to the 2020 election: a $15 minimum wage.

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The House Committee on Education and Labor will hold a hearing on Thursday entitled “Gradually Raising the Minimum Wage to $15: Good for Workers, Good for Businesses, and Good for the Economy."

Many Democrats support raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour. Members of the party – with support from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. – introduced a bill in January to raise the nationwide minimum pay rate to $15 by 2024 through scheduled annual increases.

Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders said a $15 minimum wage would increase pay for “more than 25 percent of the U.S. workforce.”

While the legislation could feasibly pass in the Democratic-controlled House, it faces an uphill battle in the Senate – where Republicans still hold a majority.

Not all conservatives are opposed to bigger paychecks, however, though they typically don’t support a federal mandate.

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow, for example, argued against having the federal government set the national minimum wage since conditions vary meaningfully among states.

“The federal government shouldn’t have jurisdiction over the states anyway in a matter like this,” Kudlow said. "The conditions are different in these states, the cost of living is different, the state of business is different.”

There are conflicting reports as to how a $15 minimum wage could impact the economy. A recent study from the Employment Policies Institute – which opposes a minimum wage hike – says raising the minimum to $15 by 2020 would cost the U.S. more than 2 million jobs.

Other reports, from left-leaning groups, assert raising the minimum wage to $15 by 2024 would increase salaries for more than 40 million Americans.

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Former McDonald’s CEO Ed Rensi told FOX Business last month that raising the minimum wage would cause a spike in consumer prices, disproportionately hurt small businesses and could result in more workers being replaced by automation.

Twenty states raised their minimum wages at the outset of 2019, including California, New York and Washington.