Saturday, January 06, 2007

Congress Introduces "Minimum Wage Increase Legislation" and Changes Committee Name to Education and Labor

Representative Miller Introduces Minimum Wage Increase Legislation

Friday, January 5, 2007

WASHINGTON, DC -- Thirteen million American workers are set to get a pay raise under legislation introduced today by U.S. Representative George Miller (D-CA) to increase the national minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25 per hour. The House of Representatives will vote on the legislation on Wednesday, January 10, as part of the Democratic leadership's "Six for '06" package of policy initiatives for the first 100 legislative hours of the new Congress.

Miller, the Chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, said today that the minimum wage increase was long overdue.

"It has been nearly a decade since the last minimum wage increase, and minimum wage workers desperately need a raise," said Miller. "It is a moral outrage that millions of Americans who work full time still live in poverty. If we truly value work, then we have to ensure that it is fairly rewarded. Next week, we intend to take the first step in that direction by passing this urgent legislation."

U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), the House Majority Leader, called on the Congress to swiftly pass the legislation and for the President to sign it.

"An increase in the minimum wage is long overdue. The Congress should swiftly pass this bill, especially now that the President has finally agreed it is the right thing to do," said Hoyer. "It is simply wrong that men and women who work hard and play by the rules live in poverty. We must not delay giving a pay raise to millions of hardworking Americans and I hope that the Senate will follow the House in passing a clean increase in the minimum wage."

Last summer, Majority Leader Hoyer offered an amendment in the Appropriations Committee to an annual spending bill for the Department of Labor that called for an increase in the minimum wage. The committee adopted the amendment with some Republican support, but Republican leaders refused to bring the spending bill to the floor.

The Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007, H.R. 2, will raise the minimum wage from $5.15 per hour to $7.25 per hour in three increments over two years and two months. It will also extend the minimum wage, on a separate timetable, to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, a U.S. territory in the Pacific Oceans where labor abuses have been rampant. The Economic Policy Institute estimates that the legislation will provide a wage increase to 13 million workers nationwide, nearly 80 percent of whom are adults.

Miller and Hoyer said that the House will pass the legislation without tying it to other legislation, and urged the Senate to do the same.

Contact: Tom Kiley / Rachel Racusen
2181 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

The committee roster of the 110th Congress restores the names of the House Education and Labor Committee. which has been newly rechristened with its old name. When Republicans took control of the chamber in 1995, the word "labor" suddenly disappeared. Not surprising, since Big Labor was a key part of the political machine that had kept Democrats in control of the House for the previous 40 years. After a couple changes, the panel eventually wound up as the Committee on Education and the Workforce.

Democrats weren’t happy about the change, but could do little about it in the House, where the majority holds nearly absolute power. Now that they have control, the panel’s new chairman, Rep. George Miller of California, and the Democratic leadership, have gone back to the old name.

“Congressman Miller viewed that change as a deliberate swipe at the labor movement in this country,” spokesman Tom Kiley said regarding the 1995 switch. “In his opinion the labor movement has been very important for America’s workers.”

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