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Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) addresses the Good Jobs Nation rally outside the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday morning. (Photo: @GoodJobsNation/Twitter)

The 22 Dems Supporting Sanders' $15 Minimum Wage Bill... and 24 Who Aren't

"Just a few years ago, if you were to say that we need to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, many people would say, 'You're crazy!'"

Deirdre Fulton

With four times as many Democratic co-sponsors as he had just two years ago, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Wednesday morning re-introduced a bill to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour.

"We've gone from laughable to inevitable."
—Terrence Wise, Fight for $15

In 2015, Sanders introduced similar legislation with just five co-sponsors. On Wednesday, he boasted 22, in addition to lead co-sponsor Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.). They are:

  • Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.)
  • Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.)
  • Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.)
  • Cory Booker (D-N.J.)
  • Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio)
  • Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.)
  • Dick Durbin (D-Ill.)
  • Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.)
  • Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.)
  • Al Franken (D-Minn.)
  • Kamala Harris (D-Calif.)
  • Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii)
  • Tim Kaine (D-Va.)
  • Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.)
  • Ed Markey (D-Mass.)
  • Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.)
  • Jack Reed (D-R.I.)
  • Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii)
  • Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.)
  • Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)
  • Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.)
  • Ron Wyden (D-Ore.)

[This list has been updated to reflect Sen. Tammy Baldwin's support.]

That means the following Democratic senators aren't on board:

  • Michael Bennet (D-Colo.)
  • Ben Cardin (D-Md.)
  • Thomas Carper (D-Del.)
  • Bob Casey (D-Pa.)
  • Chris Coons (D-Del.)
  • Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.)
  • Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.)
  • Tammy Duckworth (D-Il.)
  • Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.)
  • Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.)
  • Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.)
  • Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.)
  • Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.)
  • Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.)
  • Bob Menendez (D-N.J.)
  • Chris Murphy (D-Conn.)
  • Bill Nelson (D-Fla.)
  • Gary Peters (D-Mich.)
  • Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.)
  • Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.)
  • Jon Tester (D-Mont.)
  • Tom Udall (D-N.M.)
  • Mark Warner (D-Va.)

Reps. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and Bobby Scott (D-Va.) will introduce companion legislation in the House. The Hill notes that the bill "stands little chance of passing in a Republican-controlled Congress, but could put pressure on GOP lawmakers to stand up for workers."

Proponents introduced the Raise the Wage Act in front of the U.S. Capitol at a rally for Good Jobs Nation, a group of striking federal contract employees and allies demanding fair pay and a government that stands for workers. At the rally, progressive groups and leaders were joined by top Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Schumer and Murray—who previously introduced a competing proposal to raise the wage to $12. 

On Wednesday, Murray said she'd heard from local business owners in Seattle, which began implementing a $15 minimum wage in 2015, that raising worker pay was good for the economy

Support from lawmakers like Murray and Schumer shows how the movement to raise the minimum wage has gone "from fringe to mainstream," as Bloomberg wrote last month. Indeed, Wednesday's announcement suggests that a $15 wage is now "party consensus," economics editor Bryce Covert wrote at ThinkProgress

As Sanders himself said on Facebook, "Just a few years ago, if you were to say that we need to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, many people would say, 'You're crazy!' But a grassroots movement of millions of workers, led by Good Jobs Nation and the SEIU, refused to take 'no' for an answer."

The national Fight for $15 movement, backed by the SEIU, has certainly been instrumental. On Wednesday, Kansas City McDonald's worker and Fight for $15 leader Terrence Wise urged people to"[t]hink back to five years ago: President [Barack] Obama had yet to call for even a $9 an hour federal minimum wage, and the two members of Congress brave enough to call for $10.10 an hour were considered crazy."

"Then something crazier happened," he continued: "200 fast-food workers walked off their jobs in New York City, sparking a movement for $15 an hour and union rights that spread across the country. Twenty-two million Americans now have won raises, totaling $62 billion. We've gone from laughable to inevitable."

"With today's announcement, it's clear that our Fight for $15 has set a new standard," Wise said. "Democrats across the board support $15 an hour, because they know it's the bare minimum workers like me need to support our families. We're going to keep striking, marching, and speaking out until every worker in the country wins $15 an hour and union rights."

"Republicans have a lot to say about tax breaks for billionaires. But they don't have much to say about raising wages for our workers."
—Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)

The goals and approach of the Raise the Wage bill are supported by a new paper from the progressive Economic Policy Institute (EPI), which shows that by raising the federal minimum wage to $15 by 2024 (as the legislation proposes to do), 41 million American workers would see a raise.

In addition, EPI finds that the minimum wage increase would disproportionately benefit women and workers of color, while more than 19 million children—nearly a quarter of all children in the U.S.—would benefit from an increase in their parents' pay.

"If we raised it to $15 by 2024, for the first time ever, the minimum wage would no longer be a poverty wage," said EPI senior analyst David Cooper. "Tens of millions of workers, mostly adults who provide more than 60 percent of their family's income, would benefit from going to $15. This would, in turn, benefit their communities."

Wednesday's announcement coincides with the Trump administration's unveiling of a tax reform plan that is being described as "a huge giveaway to the rich and big corporations."

Sanders seized on the juxtaposition, writing online: "Republicans have a lot to say about tax breaks for billionaires. But they don't have much to say about raising wages for our workers."


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