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Sen. Murray Proposes Phase In Of $12 Hourly Federal Minimum Wage

Andrew Harnik
AP Photo
U.S. Senator Patty Murray

Washington’s senior U.S. Senator, Patty Murray, is introducing a bill to phase in a $12-an-hour federal minimum wage by 2020, lifting the national wage floor up from the current $7.25. Her fellow Democrat, Virginia Congressman Bobby Scott, is sponsoring the bill in the House of Representatives.

The effort is another attempt by Democrats to raise pay for the nation’s lowest earners. Last year, Republicans blocked legislation supported by President Barack Obama that would have hiked the minimum wage to $10.10 over a period of three years. Republicans such as Sen. Ted Cruz have argued that lifting the minimum wage would lead to job losses.

So far, Murray says she hasn’t gotten any Republicans to co-sponsor her bill. But she says she expects Republicans may reconsider as they get pressured by constituents.

“What I’m hearing is that a lot of them know from their own home state experience that raising the minimum wage is very important to their own state and their economy and they want our country to move forward on this,” Murray said.  

Murray’s bill also aims to get rid of the sub-minimum wage earned by workers who get tips. That has been $2.13 an hour since 1991. Under her plan, the lower minimum wage for tipped workers would gradually increase year by year until it’s phased out by around 2025.  

Murray says her minimum wage bill would lift the pay for almost 38 million Americans. Once the minimum wage reaches $12 an hour, it would automatically rise every year at the same rate as median wage growth.

In July 2017, Ashley Gross became KNKX's youth and education reporter after years of covering the business and labor beat. She joined the station in May 2012 and previously worked five years at WBEZ in Chicago, where she reported on business and the economy. Her work telling the human side of the mortgage crisis garnered awards from the Illinois Associated Press and the Chicago Headline Club. She's also reported for the Alaska Public Radio Network in Anchorage and for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.