House set for vote to raise federal minimum wage to $15 per hour

House set for vote to raise federal minimum wage to $15 per hour

Pressing ahead with one of their main agenda items in the 116th Congress, Democrats are poised to push a bill through the House on Thursday which would more than double the federal minimum wage over the next six years, taking it from the current level of $7.25 an hour, and pressing it up to $15.

"This is a fair and overdue adjustment," argued Rep. Joseph Morelle (D-NY), as debate started Wednesday on the floor of the House.

"American workers haven't had the benefit of a federal minimum wage increase in over a decade, while the prices of everything have gone up," said Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH).

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pressed Democrats to stick together on the minimum wage bill, arguing it 'lifts 1.3 million Americans out of poverty.'

But for most Republicans, the idea of raising the wage would be a giant economic mistake, hurting rural areas, and younger Americans looking for work.

"When Congress should be focused on pro-growth policies, this bill would be detrimental to American families, workers, and entrepreneurs," said Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX).

Republicans have pointed repeatedly to a recent Congressional Budget Office report, which estimated that the $15 minimum wage could cause job losses of 1.3 million - with a high estimate over 3.7 million.

"That's like firing the entire population of the state of Oklahoma," said Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL), in a line that's been used by a number of GOP lawmakers in recent weeks.

The original plan was to raise the minimum wage in five steps over five years - but because of resistance among some Democrats - the plan was changed to make it a six year increase.

The bill would raise the wage in steps, first to $8.45 an hour, then $9.50 a year after that, followed by a jump to $10.60, then $11.70 an hour, $12.80 an hour, $13.90, and lastly to $15 an hour.

After that, the minimum wage would be indexed to rise along with median wage growth in the United States.

While Democrats will certainly celebrate the passage of the plan - the bill seems unlikely to get a vote in the Republican-led Senate.