House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday committed to new legislation to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour after the wage hike provision was stripped from Democrats' massive coronavirus relief bill.
"We will persist with the minimum wage," Pelosi, D-Calif., told reporters Thursday during a Capitol news conference.
Pelosi said she's been fighting for the $15 minimum wage increase for years and "quite frankly I think it should be higher." She called the current "substandard" minimum wage of $7.25 "corporate welfare" and said Democrats will find another path forward to raise the wages of the American people.
The federal minimum wage has not increased in more than a decade, although a growing number of states have voted to adopt their own wage increases. There are 29 states with wages above the federal minimum wage, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. At $14 an hour, California currently has the highest minimum wage in the nation.
Raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 an hour by 2025 would cost the economy about 1.4 million jobs and would lift 900,000 Americans out of poverty, according to a recent analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.
At her news conference, Pelosi stood beside a poster board outlining the gradual increase that Democrats want: $9.50 minimum wage by 2021; $11 wage by 2022; $12.50 wage in 2023; $14 wage in 2024, and the $15 wage in 2025.
"We're not giving up on that," Pelosi said.
The House previously passed the $15 minimum wage as part of its version of the $1.9 trillion coronavirus bill. But when the bill was shipped over to the Senate, the provision was stripped out due to a ruling by the Senate parliamentarian.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., had sought to overrule the budget reconciliation setback, but his amendment to restore the $15 wage was defeated in a 42 to 58 vote in the Senate.
The House passed the Senate's version of the $1.9 trillion relief bill on Wednesday without the $15 wage and President Biden signed his first major piece of legislation into law on Thursday.