Sens. Mitt Romney and Kyrsten Sinema are working together on a proposal to raise the federal minimum wage after congressional Democrats failed to include a $15-an-hour hike in their coronavirus relief bill last month.
"We’re negotiating a minimum wage proposal which we would ultimately take to our group of 20 and see how they react to it and then go from there," Romney, R-Utah, told reporters this week.
It's unclear when the wage hike would take effect, or what the new pay floor would be. Sen. Joe Manchin – a member of the 20 centrist senators – told Huffington Post he believed the new minimum would be $11 per hour.
The senators' offices did not respond to a FOX Business request for comment.
Romney introduced legislation -- Higher Wages for American Workers Act -- earlier this year to hike the minimum wage to $10 per hour by 2025, a change tied to mandatory E-Verify for businesses designed to prevent employers from hiring undocumented workers. The minimum wage would then be indexed to inflation every two years.
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.
The latest push from Sinema and Romney comes one month after the Senate parliamentarian, a non-partisan referee, ruled that Democrats could not include a $15 minimum wage increase in the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan – a serious setback for the party's left-wing faction, which has been pushing the policy for more than a decade.
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.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer met with moderate and progressive members of his caucus last month to discuss different proposals to raise the minimum wage. The lawmakers are expected to meet again soon to continue the discussion.