In a press conference yesterday, 12 Democrat women senators came together to urge Republican lawmakers to join them in efforts to raise the federal minimum wage, now at $7.25 an hour, to $10.10 an hour. Their comments echoed President Obama’s State of the Union remarks about income inequality, in which he committed to issuing an Executive Order raising the minimum wage for new federal contractors to $10.10.
Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Patty Murray (D-WA), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) related Obama’s remarks to two pieces of legislation currently in the Senate: the Minimum Wage Fairness Act, which raises the federal minimum wage to $10.10 by 2016 in three phases, and the Paycheck Fairness Act, which seeks to close the wage gap by expanding the Equal Pay Act of 1963.
“The women of the Senate are coming together to say – it is time to raise the minimum wage in this country,” said Senator Boxer.
Senator Klobuchar touched on America’s consumer-based economy, making a case for a higher minimum wage that allows American families to stimulate the economy through consumerism. The 12 senators also each asserted that the minimum wage is indeed a women’s issue, and that a raise on the federal level would lift 15 million women out of poverty. 64 percent of all minimum wage workers are women, and one-third of all American women – 42 million – and the 28 million children who depend on them, are living on the brink of poverty.
“Republicans have to decide whether they are really going to block giving 15 million American women a raise,” said Senator Murray. “My hope is that over the next month our Republican colleagues do a little soul searching as they prepare for this vote. I also hope they talk to the millions of American women who are struggling to get by on $7.25 an hour, particularly at a time when many of these women are the sole caregivers and breadwinners in their families.”
The Minimum Wage Fairness Act, introduced in the Senate by Tom Harkin (D-IA) in November 2013, has not yet been up for a vote in the full chamber. Many of the women urged Congress to take up the stalled legislation and stand by America’s women and families.
“Full time work should not be rewarded with full time poverty,” Senator Warren said. “Hardworking men and women who are busting their tails in full-time jobs should have a chance to support themselves and their families and build a little economic security. It is time for Congress to act and raise the minimum wage.”
Media Resources: Senator Boxer’s Press Office; Feminist Majority 1/29/2014; Roll Call 1/30/2014; Feminist Newswire 12/6/2013, 1/13/14; GovTrack