The House voted Thursday to more than double the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, overcoming Republicans who called the hike socialist.
The vote was 231 to 199.
The bill faces poor prospects in the GOP-led Senate, but the call for the first hike in the minimum wage in a decade has broad popular support.
Democrats cast it as a matter of fairness, and in particular a boon for women and minorities who have lost ground relative to inflation.
“While families work hard to make ends meet, the cost of living has surged to unsustainable highs, inflation has eaten nearly 20% of their wages, and the GOP special interest agenda has left them far behind,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
The “Raise The Wage Act” would gradually boost the lowest basic pay rate over five years, raising it from the $7.25 an hour that President George Bush signed in 2007.
Republicans argued that the measure would be a job killer and a bow to the extreme left.
“It is bewildering that democrats refuse to acknowledge or celebrate the victories of our present economy and continue to call for socialist policies,” said Rep. Virginia Foxx, who led debate the the Republicans. “They want to pass this ill-advised legislation which would wreak havoc on the economic progress we have achieved over the last few years.”
Republicans and Democrats alike pointed to Congressional Budget Office estimates on the impact of the bill.
Republicans focused on the potential lost jobs, which the CBO put at about 1.3 million. Democrats preferred to highlight the 17 million people who would get pay raises and the 1.3 million who would be lifted out of poverty.
Some business interests support the boost, including Amazon. One Democrat who founded the nationwide liquor store chain Total Wine, Rep. David Trone, argued that such a wage hike wouldn’t hurt businesses like his at all.
“My business operates in many cities like Seattle, with a $15 minimum wage. When the laws changed, we didn’t cut jobs and our business did not suffer,” Trone said. “We raise the wage, we see a win for business, a win for working families and a win for our economy.”
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