Under the legislation, the minimum wage would hit $15 in 2025, and then—and don’t undersell how exciting this part is—be indexed to median wage growth so that the minimum wage would not get stuck for another 12 years because Republicans regain the power to stand in the way. Instead, under the Raise the Wage Act, once the minimum wage hits $15, workers would get small, regular raises so that their pay didn’t fall steadily behind the cost of food and housing.
The subminimum wage for tipped workers has been at $2.13 since 1991, and other groups that get subminimum wages include youth workers and workers with disabilities. Those groups would also gradually reach the full minimum wage, in another massive strong point to this bill—and something that industry groups are going to throw a ton of lobbyists at to remove from the bill.
And do expect a lot of money to go into either defeating this bill or watering it down dramatically. One very powerful argument on the side of raising it, though—one that can be used against wavering Democrats or possibly even a tiny number of Republicans—is that the $15 minimum wage is popular. Popular as in more than 60% of Florida voters approved a $15 minimum wage at the same time as the state went for Donald Trump. This is not just some deep-blue-state thing that swing district House members should fear. It’s giving a lot of people a big raise before the 2022 elections—to $9.50 an hour in 2021 (specifically on the first day of the third month after enactment of the legislation) and to $11 a year later. Recent years have brought a string of minimum wage victories through ballot measures. It’s past time for Congress to get its act together, and that means Senate Republicans getting out of the way.