The issue of raising the minimum wage could create a new fight on Capitol Hill as liberal Democrats in Congress call for a hike to at least $10.10 from the current $7.25.
“Well, we’re going to introduce our own bill on it,” Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin told The Hill
this week, adding that the president “missed the mark” when he called for increasing the minimum wage to $9 in his State of the Union address.
Obama argued that raising it to $9 was needed to ensure a better future for poor people struggling to reach the middle class. But Harkin says people need more and is working on a bill with California Rep. George Miller that would phase in the $10.10 higher wage over three years and link future increases to inflation.
Other Democrats in support of a higher minimum include Rep. Charles Rangel, who co-sponsored a bill last year to raise it to $10, and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, both of New York.
The Republican-controlled House, however, is not likely to go along with either the president's proposal or Harkin's. After Obama unveiled his State of the Union proposal, House Speaker John Boehner called it a job killer.
"When you raise the price of employment, guess what happens? You get less of it,” Boehner told reporters the next morning. “At a time when the American people are still asking the question, 'Where are the jobs?' why would we want to make it harder for small employers to hire people?"
Rep. Marsha Blackburn has also come out hard against the measure. "I'm not for raising the minimum wage and I’ll tell you why," the Tennessee Republican told NBC News recently. "You're going to exclude a lot of younger workers. Why would you take a step that is going to make it difficult for employers to hire people?"
Congress last raised the minimum wage, from $5.15 to $7.25, in 2007.
Harkin and Miller reportedly plan to unveil their bill in a matter of weeks.
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