Nearly seven years after the grassroots Fight for $15 movement began, the House of Representatives has voted to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by the middle of the next decade, and to tie the minimum wage to inflation after that.
The bill passed the House on Thursday morning on a mostly party-line vote, with six Democrats and independent libertarian Rep. Justin Amash voting against and three Republicans voting yes. Advocates erupted in cheers following the bill’s passage, and celebrated the first time the House has voted to raise the minimum wage in 12 years:
The vote caps months of negotiations within the Democratic caucus, which at one point saw a rival “regional” minimum wage bill, tied more to geography than a specific universal timeline, floated by House moderates. Ultimately, however, only about a dozen moderates signed onto that bill, and support for the $15 minimum bill was secured by extending the phase-in to $15 by one year, from 2024 to 2025, and by agreeing to an amendment by Arizona Democratic Rep. Tom O’Halleran to study the effects of raising the minimum wage.
Prior to the vote, Congressional Progressive Caucus leaders Reps. Pramila Jayapal and Mark Pocan warned moderate Democrats that their caucus would vote to sink the bill if moderates co-signed a Republican “motion to recommit,” which has split the caucus several times this year. “After consulting with our Members this week, we are confident that any bill that includes a poison pill Republican Motion to Recommit will lack the votes to pass on the House Floor,” the two said in a statement on Wednesday.
While some Democrats did vote for an amendment from Republican Rep. Dan Meuser of Pennsylvania to exempt small businesses from the wage increase, however, enough of the caucus stuck together to sink it, and the bill passed.
While the passage of the bill is a victory for organizers and House progressives who’ve been pushing a $15 minimum wage since 2013, it’s likely the bill won’t receive a vote in the U.S. Senate. In the exceedingly improbable chance it does, and passes, the White House has said it would recommend a veto to President Donald Trump.
But progressives are hopeful that the passage of the House bill marks a turning point, one that could make a $15 federal minimum wage a reality should Democrats take control of the Senate and White House in 2020. “$15 is going to happen sooner rather than later,” an aide to a progressive House Democrat told Splinter yesterday.
“When workers have more money in their pockets, they have more money to spend to care for their families and stimulate our economy,” Pocan said in a statement released following the passage of the bill. “Now that the House has acted, Senate Majority Leader McConnell should listen to American workers and bring this bill up for a vote.”