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WASHINGTON, DC - House Democratic Whip Hoyer (MD) released the following statement today after offering an amendment with Rep. Obey (WI), the Ranking Democrat on the Appropriations Committee, and Rep. Mollohan (WV), the Ranking Democrat on the Science, State, Justice, and Commerce Subcommittee, to raise the minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25. Hoyer successfully offered the same amendment to the Labor, Health and Human Services Appropriations bill last week, which gave Democrats new momentum on the issue:
"Congress should act now to raise the minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25. The Obey-Hoyer-Mollohan amendment raises the minimum wage by $2.10 in three steps over 2 years. The national minimum wage of $5.15 is now at its lowest level in 50 years when adjusted for inflation.
"Millions of hardworking Americans who earn the minimum wage are struggling to put food on the table for their families. Skyrocketing costs have put healthcare and decent housing out of reach, while rising gas prices are squeezing them even further. That is why Democrats have made raising the minimum wage a top priority.
"It has been 9 years since the last increase in the minimum wage, the second longest period since it was enacted. In 1968, the federal minimum wage reached, in relative terms, its highest value: $l.60 per hour. Had the rate been indexed to equivalent dollars it would be $9.05. Every day the minimum wage is not raised, it loses value to inflation. People who work full-time in America should not be poor, but in 2003 there were 3.7 million workers who worked full-time, year-round, and still lived in poverty.
"A minimum wage increase of $2.10 over 24 months would directly benefit 7.3 million low-wage workers and its spillover effects would benefit an additional 8.2 million workers. Most minimum wage workers are adults who work to support themselves and their families.
"A solid body of contemporary research has found no job loss resulting from increases in the minimum wage.
"Raising the minimum wage is an issue of fairness and an issue of values. The time to increase the minimum wage is long overdue, and Democrats are going to keep fighting for a fair wage for America's working families."