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Pressure rises on minimum wage increase

POSTED February 27, 2014 9:17 p.m.

With House Democrats filing a discharge petition on Thursday that would force Republicans to take a vote on raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, pressure has increased to address the issue which has left many on different sides of the table.

By utilizing a discharge petition, the bill that would see a $10.10 hourly minimum wage over the span of two years would be brought to the House floor for consideration, being signed into law if attaining a majority vote.

According to the House Democrats, many are confident that the bill will pass, as only 218 votes are needed for a majority vote. With all 199 House Democrats voting in favor of the bill, it would need some Republicans agreeing to jump on board to be signed into federal law.

President Barack Obama, who has been actively fighting for the increase in minimum wage over recent months, has called on Congress to approve a $10.10 minimum wage, even taking executive action of his own by raising the minimum wage for federal contractors.

According to White House Council of Economic Advisors Chairman Jason Furman, an increase to a $10.10 minimum wage would significant help 16.5 million Americans in moderate and low income households.

“In addition to helping thousands of families live above the poverty line, there are important spillover effects,” said Furman, in response to the Congressional Budget Office report on the minimum wage increase. “Lower wage workers would become more productive, reduced absenteeism, increased motivation; increased retention with a reduction in employee turnover rates…these all result in cost savings.”

Although Gov. Jerry Brown has already signed minimum wage increases into law in California that will begin taking effect this July, the federal minimum wage has remained at $7.25 — an amount that critics and economists have said does not reflect the pace of inflation. In many states throughout the country, the minimum wage has been noted as not meeting the rising cost of living, causing an increased amount of concern for low-income families barely making ends meet.

Many Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, have made the argument, however, that an increase in minimum wage would result in a loss of jobs — a claim supported by the CBO report. Furman, however, said that the loss of jobs is minimal with reports continually showing that such an increase would reduce overall poverty.

The bill, or the Fair Minimum Wage Act, currently has 190 co-sponsors and would only need another 28 to force a vote on the policy.

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