(202) 225 - 3130
WASHINGTON, DC - House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) made the following remarks this morning at a press conference held by the Democratic leadership to highlight accomplishments in the first five months of this Congress:
"For ten long years, the Republican leadership in Congress slow-walked and stymied a long-overdue increase in the federal minimum wage.
"And today, after just five months of this 110th Congress, the new Democratic majorities in the House and Senate have not only achieved an increase in the minimum wage, but also served notice that we are committed to policies that grow our economy and lift up all Americans.
"When the minimum wage is increased from $5.15 to $7.25 over the next two years, the poorest working families in our nation will see their annual incomes rise by more than $4,000 a year.
"In fact, an estimated 13 million workers will see their pay go up, directly or indirectly.
"Raising the minimum wage is not just an issue of fairness and justice. This is a moral issue. In the United States of America, if you work hard and play by the rules, you should not be relegated to a life in poverty.
"Let me say, too, after just five months of this new Congress, Democrats have restored fiscal responsibility, reinstating pay-as-you-go budget rules and passing a fiscally responsible budget that invests in our people and provides for the extension of middle-class tax cuts.
"We also are proud that we passed critical elements of the Speaker's "Innovation Agenda," which will help Americans compete and win in the 21st century economy.
"And, in the weeks ahead, we will work to permanently fix the Republican Party's stealth tax increase - the alternative minimum tax - which threatens to ensnare 23 million taxpayers this year.
"Now, as the Speaker has stated, Democrats will continue to insist that the Administration and Iraqi government be accountable for making progress in the weeks ahead.
"Meanwhile, as we prepare to honor those who have died in our nation's service on Memorial Day, House Democrats are providing those now serving and our veterans with the health care and resources that they need and deserve.
"For example, our Military Construction and Veterans Affairs spending bill provides the largest single increase - $6.7 billion - in the 77-year history of the Veterans Administration.
"And, in the supplemental appropriations bill that we passed yesterday, we added $1.8 billion directly targeted at the needs of our veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.
"Our men and women in uniform and veterans have answered duty's call. We have a moral obligation to assist them when they return.
"Finally, these first five months are only the beginning. We are making progress for the American people, governing effectively and getting results.
"Our work is not over. It's only just begun. We will continue to move our nation in a new direction."