On the same day President Trump unveiled his highly anticipated tax reform proposal, former presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) reignited a familiar debate on Capitol Hill as he reintroduced the idea of raising the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour.
Sanders, along with Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wa.) and more than 20 other Democratic co-sponsors, introduced The Raise the Wage Act of 2017 Wednesday. The bill would immediately raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $9.25 and increase the rate to $15 by the year 2024. The act also notably proposes a raise in the minimum wage for employees who earn tips.
While Sanders may have the support of his party, according to some policy experts the bill will likely be dead on arrival in a Republican-controlled Congress.
“Sanders can use this as a talking point … ['The Fight for 15'] has been a very successful PR stunt,” Diana Furchtgott-Roth, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and former chief economist at the U.S. Department of Labor, told FOX Business.
After a crushing blow in the 2016 election, introducing this legislation could be part of a rebuilding effort within the party. During the campaign cycle Hillary Clinton appeared reluctant to back a $15 minimum wage, advocating instead for a hike to $12 with support for individual cities to go further. A bill introduced in 2015 to hike the minimum wage to $12 was defeated, but now many of the Democrats who co-sponsored that bill—including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer—have jumped on board with Sanders’ push for a $15 wage.
Democrats backing the hike to $15 say their goal is to give hard-working Americans a much deserved raise.
“The federal minimum wage of $7.25 is an insult to the workers of this country. Our job is to ensure that anyone who works 40 hours a week in America should not be living in poverty. We need to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour,” Sanders wrote in a Facebook post on April 7.
On the other hand, Republicans and many business owners argue a $15 minimum wage would impede job growth and have an uneven impact across rural areas and big, urban cities.
“Whereas New York might be able to sustain a $15 minimum wage, it couldn’t be sustained in somewhere like Memphis or Birmingham, it would be very harmful,” Furchtgott-Roth said.
According to a 2016 study from conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation, “[a $15 minimum wage] would result in many states losing hundreds of thousands of jobs and would considerably curtail employment opportunities, especially for less-skilled workers.”
But according to those backing the hike, the fight is far from over.
“I don’t think doing the right thing ever gets old ... If Republicans are going to fight against that then so be it,” Isaac Wright, principal of pro-Clinton super PAC Correct the Record, told FOX Business.