In a decision that many activists consider long overdue, the House of Representatives voted Thursday morning to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2025.
If implemented, the Raise the Wage Act would represent the first time the federal minimum wage has budged in nearly a decade. It’s held stagnant at $7.25 per hour since 2009, and according to research from U.C. Berkeley, the gulf between median wage workers and those earning the minimum in the U.S. is currently the widest of any industrialized country in the world. The RTWA would also reverse the current law that workers under the age of 20 and those with disabilities can be paid below the minimum wage, and it would bump up the minimum wage for tipped workers, which has been set at $2.13 per hour since 1991.
In a statement, Christine L. Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project, said: “Today’s House vote for a $15 minimum wage reflects the will of the people: Raising the minimum wage is long overdue, and it’s popular with voters in every state, and across all demographics including political affiliation. . . . Now there’s no other moral choice but for the Senate to take up the Raise the Wage Act and move it forward.”
However, that will be a steep ask. The RTWA passed the Democratic-controlled House largely on party lines, but the Republican-controlled Senate is likely to shut it down.
As the New York Times notes, though: “It previews what Democrats would do if they captured the Senate and the White House in 2020, and it demonstrates how fast the politics have shifted since 2012, when fast-food workers began to strike in cities around the country, demanding $15-an-hour wages and a union.”