Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, unveiled a proposal Thursday to raise the national minimum wage to $17 an hour.
He said the panel will mark up the bill June 14 and hopes to push it to the Senate floor.
“It is time to raise the minimum wage to a living wage. As chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee, that is exactly what I intend to see happen,” he said at a press conference Thursday.
Sanders is renewing his push to raise the national minimum wage more than two years after eight Senate Democrats joined all Republicans in rejecting a proposal, 58-42, to include a $15-an-hour national minimum wage in the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, which President Biden signed into law in March of 2021.
The Vermont senator said Thursday that a $15-an-hour wage in 2021 is equal to a $17-an-hour wage in 2023 because of inflation.
Congress last voted to raise the nation’s minimum wage in 2007. It rose to its current level of $7.25 an hour in July of 2009.
“Nobody in this country can survive on $7.25 an hour,” Sanders said. “Maybe some of my colleagues in Congress might want to live for a month on $7.25 an hour and see what’s that like.”
Sanders noted that 13 states have approved a $15-an-hour minimum wage, including Nebraska, a Republican-leaning state. Nebraska’s wage will rise to that level in 2026.
“This is not a red issue, not a blue issue, it’s an American issue,” he said.
Sanders said he wants a floor vote on the bill, which will have a hard time getting the support of 60 senators to overcome a filibuster.
“We’re going to push it as quickly and as hard we can,” he said.