Highlighting the injustice of the fact that ordinary American workers earn less today than they did in the 1970s despite a steadily growing economy and soaring corporate profits, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has announced that he plans to reintroduce his bill to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour during the first week of the new Congress in a bid to "end starvation wages in the richest country in the world."
"The minimum wage must become a living wage."
—Sen. Bernie Sanders"While the official unemployment rate is relatively low, too many workers in America today are making wages that don't pay enough to make ends meet," Sanders declared in a statement. "Workers and their families cannot make it on $9 an hour or $10 an hour—or even less. We have got to raise the minimum wage in this country to a living wage—at least $15 an hour."
In the first week of the new Congress I will be re-introducing my legislation to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 an hour. We have got to end starvation wages in the richest country in the world.
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) November 9, 2018
By gradually hiking the minimum wage to $15 by 2024, Sanders' legislation would give an estimated 40 million low-wage workers a raise. According to the Vermont senator's office, raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour "would generate over $100 billion in higher wages for workers," providing a significant boost to local economies.
"The current federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour is a starvation wage and must be raised," Sanders wrote on Twitter. "The minimum wage must become a living wage. One job should be enough to live with dignity and security."
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Sanders' $15 minimum wage legislation had 22 original co-sponsors when he reintroduced it in the Senate last year, and the bill ultimately ended up with 31 co-sponsors. The companion bill in the House, introduced by Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.), garnered 171 Democratic co-sponsors. When Sanders introduced similar legislation in 2015, it received the support of just five other senators.
With a new wave of young progressives set to take their seats when the new Congress convenes in January, Sanders has expressed hope that more Democrats will sign on to a higher minimum wage and the other essential components of an ambitious progressive agenda.
In an interview with Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi last week, Sanders warned that Democrats should not become so focused on investigating the Trump administration's boundless corruption that they lose sight of the immediate material needs of the American public.
"People who are making $11 an hour are not worrying about investigations. People who have no healthcare, or can't afford prescription drugs, are not worried about subpoenas," Sanders said. "People who can't afford to send their kids to college are not worried about another investigation. So it would be a tragic mistake in my view if all the Democrats did is focus on investigations. They must, must, must go forward with a progressive agenda to win the support of the American people.