House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Thursday called on Republican House leadership to take up legislation recently introduced by Rep. George Miller (D-CA) and Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) that would raise the federal minimum wage above $10 an hour. Miller and Harkin announced the bill, which would set the minimum wage at $10.10 per hour and index it to inflation so it raised automatically thereafter, this week.
Pelosi cited recent stock gains that pushed markets to record highs even as worker incomes remain stagnant as her reason for backing the legislation, The Hill reports:
“This week, we saw something quite remarkable, the stock market soaring to record heights. At the same time, we see productivity keeping pace,” Pelosi told reporters in the Capitol. “But we don’t see income for America’s middle class rising. In fact, it’s been about the same as since the end of the Clinton years.” [...]
“If we are going to honor our commitment to the middle class,” she said, “we have to reflect that intention in our public policy.”
Raising the minimum wage to $10.10 would bring it in line with its historical borrowing power, which peaked in 1968, and indexing it to inflation would prevent Congress from having to repeatedly raise it to keep up with rising costs. The current wage would be $10.40 had it been indexed to inflation in 1968.
Top Republicans have already signaled their opposition to any increase in the minimum wage, even though 65 Republicans currently serving in Congress voted for the last increase, which was signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2007.