WASHINGTON — The U.S. House, on a near party-line vote Thursday, advanced a proposal to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025.
Louisiana's congressional delegation mirrored the larger partisan split, with U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans, the only Louisiana vote in favor of the proposal.
U.S. House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, the No. 2 Republican in the chamber, from Jefferson Parish; Republican U.S. Reps. Garret Graves, of Baton Rouge; Mike Johnson, of Benton; and Clay Higgins, of Port Barre; voted against increasing the minimum wage.
WASHINGTON — The U.S. House has set the stage for a battle in the coming days over a proposal to gradually double the federal minimum wage fro…
U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham, a Republican from Alto who is running for governor, did not vote.
Democrats in the House celebrated the bill's passage with loud cheers erupting in the chamber. The bill now heads to the GOP-controlled U.S. Senate, where it faces an uphill battle.
The last increase in the federal minimum wage was a decade ago, setting it to the current $7.25 an hour.
Louisiana is one of five states that has never adopted its own minimum wage law, relying instead on Congress to set the floor for how much workers must be paid. More than half the states in the U.S. have laws that require payment higher than the federal level.
The Louisiana Legislature for the past four years has rebuffed Gov. John Bel Edwards’ calls for a modest minimum wage increase to $9 an hour. Edwards, a Democrat who is seeking reelection this year, campaigned on the minimum wage hike proposal and has personally appeared in hearings at the State Capitol to advocate for the proposal.
A survey from the Public Policy Research Lab at LSU earlier this year found more than 80 percent of Louisiana residents support a modest increase in the minimum wage.
Gov. John Bel Edwards is again voicing support for a minimum wage hike in Louisiana -- a key issue he campaigned on four years ago.
As it stands, the $15-an-hour proposal is unlikely to pass muster in the GOP-controlled Senate, particularly after a recent nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office analysis determined that, though it would increase pay for millions of workers, it also could trigger an estimated one million job losses. Researchers noted that the number can be hard to pin down, so it could be as many as 3.7 million lost jobs.
For someone who works 40 hours a week, the higher minimum wage would be about $17,000 a year.
Scalise said the proposal would create "artificially high" pay that would spur job losses.
“Most of us that believe in the free market system reject that idea," he said.
Three Republicans voted for the minimum wage hike, while six Democrats voted against it.
The bill was seen as a priority for Democrats, who took control of the House in January. Many of the Democratic candidates for president have said they back the proposal.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, described the fight as being "about fairness."
“America’s workers deserve a raise," she said.
Pelosi was also the House speaker when the last increase passed in 2009.
She noted that it passed with bipartisan support and was signed by Republican President George W. Bush.
Johnson, chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee, said the minimum wage hike would "do nothing more than hurt the people that it is actually intended to help.
"Congress should be considering pro-growth policies that create opportunities for all Americans, not legislation that cripples small businesses and increases unemployment," he said.
Voters in two Republican-controlled states this week overwhelmingly approved minimum wage hikes, giving new hope to advocates in Louisiana, wh…