Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Demonstrators participate in a protest outside of McDonald's corporate headquarters on January 15, 2021 in Chicago.

Demonstrators participate in a protest outside of McDonald's corporate headquarters on January 15, 2021 in Chicago. (Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

'Time for Talk Is Over. No More Excuses,' Says Sanders as Lawmakers Intro $15 Minimum Wage Bill

"We can no longer tolerate millions of workers not being able to afford to feed their families or pay the rent."

Jake Johnson

Demanding an end to the "starvation wage" of $7.25 that has prevailed at the national level since 2009, a group of top House and Senate lawmakers on Tuesday introduced legislation that would raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025—a move that would hike the pay of an estimated 32 million workers across the United States.

Led by Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) in the House and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in the Senate, the Raise the Wage Act of 2021 (pdf) would phase in the $15 hourly minimum wage over the next four years and index it to median wage growth thereafter.

"No person in America can make it on $8, $10, or $12 an hour. In the United States of America a job must lift workers out of poverty, not keep them in it."
—Sen. Bernie Sanders

The bill, which has the backing of both House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), would also gradually phase out the sub-minimum wage for tipped workers, teen workers, and workers with disabilities, ensuring that those workers are paid at least the full federal minimum wage.

Sanders, the incoming chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, said during a press call Tuesday that while he would prefer to implement the $15-an-hour floor more quickly, the legislation as is would "improve life substantially for millions and millions of workers."

"No person in America can make it on $8, $10, or $12 an hour," Sanders said in a statement. "In the United States of America a job must lift workers out of poverty, not keep them in it. We must raise the minimum wage to a living wage—at least $15 an hour."

"We can no longer tolerate millions of workers not being able to afford to feed their families or pay the rent," the Vermont senator added. "The time for talk is over. No more excuses. It is time for Congress to act to raise the minimum wage to at least $15 an hour."

While cities and states across the nation have hiked their minimum wages in recent years in response to tireless advocacy by the grassroots Fight for $15 movement, the federal minimum wage has been stagnant for more than a decade, the longest stretch without an increase since the minimum wage was enshrined into law in 1938.

"Raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025 will help reduce poverty, narrow racial and gender pay gaps, and stimulate the economy. Minimum wage workers deserve a raise. Now is the time for Congress to give it to them."
—Ben Zipperer, Economic Policy Institute

"As a longtime organizer for working people who helped draft the resolution that made Seattle the first major city to enact a $15 minimum wage, I know that raising the wage is good for workers, families, businesses, and the economy," said Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. "It is time for the People's House to once again stand up for workers, fight for families, and pass the Raise the Wage Act so we finally have a $15 minimum wage all across America."

The Democrat-controlled House passed an earlier version of the Raise the Wage Act in July of 2019, but the then-Republican-controlled Senate refused to allow a vote on the measure.

During Tuesday's press call, Sanders expressed confidence that with Democratic control of the House, the Senate, and the presidency, the Raise the Wage Act finally has a strong chance of becoming law. The Vermont senator added that he is working on a plan to structure the minimum wage increase so it can clear the Senate through the budget reconciliation process, which is filibuster-proof and thus requires just a simple-majority vote.

"Do I think we have 50 votes plus one [from Vice President Kamala Harris] to pass a $15-an-hour minimum wage? I absolutely believe that we do," said the Vermont senator.

In a statement Tuesday, Ben Zipperer of the Economic Policy Institute said that the Raise the Wage Act of 2021 is "not just moral policy, it is also good economics."

"A $15 minimum wage by 2025 would generate $107 billion in higher wages for workers," said Zipperer. "Raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025 will help reduce poverty, narrow racial and gender pay gaps, and stimulate the economy. Minimum wage workers deserve a raise. Now is the time for Congress to give it to them."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Acidification of Arctic Happening Up to 4 Times Faster Than Other Oceans

The research followed reports that the Arctic is warming nearly four times faster than the Earth as a whole.

Julia Conley ·


Despite Nearly 80% of Voters in Favor, House Dems Stall on Stock Trading Ban

"Existing ethics laws do not go far enough to prevent members of Congress from using the information they have access to for personal gain. No more excuses. No more delays. It's time for action."

Jessica Corbett ·


Analysis Exposes Taxpayer Billions 'Wasted' on Dead-End Carbon Capture Schemes

Food & Water Watch said "this track record should elicit serious concern" as Congress dumps billions more into failed carbon capture technology.

Jake Johnson ·


House Dems Urge Biden to Push for Removal of Climate-Denying World Bank President

"We need a World Bank Group leader who fully appreciates the threat of climate change and the need to accelerate the global transition to a clean just energy future to improve living standards, reduce poverty, and encourage sustainable growth."

Kenny Stancil ·


'Let's Pass Medicare for All,' Says Jayapal as Survey Spotlights Failures of For-Profit System

"When the 'all-time low' of uninsured Americans is still 26 MILLION, something needs to change," said Rep. Pramila Jayapal.

Julia Conley ·

Common Dreams Logo