Majority Leader Hoyer on Raising the Minimum Wage


the chair recognizes the TimeCode: 10:39:51.7 distinguished majority leader from maryland. mr. hoyer: thank you very much, mr. speaker. i am extraordinarily happy to rise in support of this legislation. this legislation is very late in coming to this floor as a freestanding bill. TimeCode: 10:40:08.0 it is, however, never too late to do the right thing. this legislation, the fair minimum wage act of 2007, is long overdue. i believe it will pass this house today with broad bipartisan support. as the 9/11 bill did yesterday TimeCode: 10:40:27.3 making our country safer. at long last, mr. speaker, this house is just hours away from finally passing a clean increase in the federal minimum wage and sending this legislation to the senate. TimeCode: 10:40:41.8 where we devoutly hope the members of the other body will do the same without delay. h.r. 2 is the second key piece of legislation in the new democratic majority leader's 100 hours agenda. TimeCode: 10:40:56.7 we are following through on our pledge to the american people to immediately address these critical issues. there's probably not a member of this house who fails to appreciate that an american who works full-time at today's minimum wage of $5.15 per hour TimeCode: 10:41:13.6 is essentially living in poverty. that's not right, mr. speaker. that worker if he or she works 40 hours per week for 52 weeks makes roughly $10,700 per year. if that mom has a child or that TimeCode: 10:41:30.2 father has a wife and a child, they are essentially living on $6,000 less than we determine to be poverty in america. passing this legislation today TimeCode: 10:41:44.3 which will raise the minimum wage by $2.10 per hour to $7.25 in three steps over the next two years is simply a matter of doing what's right, what's just, and what's fair. very frankly, mr. speaker, if TimeCode: 10:41:59.7 it were up to me i would do $7.25 an hour now. but we are going to phase this in so that small businesses and others can accommodate this raise. but that will mean, mr. speaker, that those on the minimum wage will still have to TimeCode: 10:42:17.8 wait. it has been nine years and four months since the last increase in the federal minimum wage took effect. that was under president clinton. this represents the longest period without an increase TimeCode: 10:42:33.1 since congress established the minimum wage in 1938. since congress said we are going to have a minimum in the united states that we will pay people and respect people who work to make themselves, their families, and their country TimeCode: 10:42:49.7 better. at $5.15 today the minimum wage level is at its lowest level. adjusted for inflation, in over 50 years, half a century. in fact, mr. speaker, if the minimum wage had been adjusted TimeCode: 10:43:08.1 with the cost of living on an annual basis since 1968, a minimum wage worker would not be making $5.15, not be taking $7.25, would be making $9.05. so effectively this raise will TimeCode: 10:43:26.2 be $1.85 less than they would be making if it had been raised on a regular basis. meanwhile, just since 2000 the cost of health insurance, gasoline, home heating, TimeCode: 10:43:41.1 attending college, food, other related expenses have all increased. in fact, for an average family about $5,000 a year in that period of time. yet the minimum wage worker has not received any raise. TimeCode: 10:43:57.0 this legislation will benefit literally millions of americans . an estimated 5.6 million americans who make less than $7.25 an hour will directly benefit from this increase. an estimated additional $77.3 million americans, including TimeCode: 10:44:13.7 femme -- 7.3 million americans, including family members making less than $7.25 will indirectly benefit. there are those who claim this legislation will hurt small business and the economy. i reject that. i believe history shows that's not the case. in fact, when we raised it in TimeCode: 10:44:31.3 1997, the economy was having one of the most successful periods of time which continued long past the adoption of the minimum wage. in fact, according to one recent study small business TimeCode: 10:44:44.4 employment grew more in states with a higher minimum wage between 1997 and 2003 than in federal minimum wage states. in other words, in those states that were paying above the $5.15 an hour their economies grew more and they created more TimeCode: 10:45:01.5 jobs than did those states which had frozen their minimum wage at the federal minimum wage. lee scott the chief executive officer of wal-mart has stated that the current minimum wage, and a quote, mr. speaker, the TimeCode: 10:45:19.1 chairman of wal-mart, quote, is out of date with the times. we can see firsthand at wal-mart how many of our customers are struggling to get by. our customers simply don't have the money to buy basic TimeCode: 10:45:36.7 necessities between paychecks. now what is wal-mart all about? wal-mart is about bringing prices down, very controversial how they do it, but the fact is they know their consumers cannot buy even discounted TimeCode: 10:45:52.2 necessities of life on the TimeCode: 10:45:55.1 minimum wage. mr. speaker, you and i know in the richest nation on the face of the earth that is wrong. in a bipartisan way -- i haven't counted the republican votes, we are going get a lot TimeCode: 10:46:09.6 of republican votes, who are saying to the american people as we are, we agree with you. 89 pageant of the american people when questioned believe the minimum wage ought to be raised. 89% of the people. 83% of small businesses say TimeCode: 10:46:25.5 this will not adversely affect them. mr. speaker, it is time to pass this legislation. 64 house runs joined all democrats here last july in voting for a $7.25 per hour minimumuation under the TimeCode: 10:46:44.7 vocational education bill. there is no reason not to support this legislation. the united states of america the richest country on the face of the earth, you should not be relegated to poverty if you work hard and play by the rules. i urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support TimeCode: 10:47:01.7 this reasonable, bipartisan legislation. the president of the united states has indicated he will sign a minimum wage increase. there may be some changes that he wants, but he has recognized as we will recognize today it is long past the time when we TimeCode: 10:47:18.6 need to pay people and give them the dignity that their work demands and has earned. mr. speaker, at this time i ask unanimous consent that i be allowed to yield the balance of TimeCode: 10:47:33.3 my time to mr. miller, who has been the leader on this issue in the house of representatives and one of the leaders in the country and chairs the education and labor committee.