WASHINGTON — A second bill calling for an increase in the federal minimum wage was introduced in Congress Friday, while the administration remained mum on its own plans to seek an increase.
Rep. Martin Olav Sabo (D., Minn.), the ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee, proposed increasing the $4.25 minimum hourly wage by more than 50 percent to $6.50, well above the maximum $1 increase the administration has said it will likely propose.
Sabo’s bill follows the introduction two weeks ago by Sens. Edward Kennedy (D., Mass.) and Paul Wellstone (D., Minn.) of a proposed $1.50 increase in the wage, to be spread over three years in 50-cent increments.
In addition to seeking a wage hike, Sabo also introduced a measure that he said would further strengthen blue-collar workers’ wages by restricting the tax deductibility of executive wages to an amount equal to 25 times the salary of the lowest paid worker.
Both wage hike bills and the executive wage measures were introduced in the last Congress and were fiercely opposed by business.
“These proposals didn’t make much headway in a Democratic Congress and the chances that they’ll make headway in a Republican-held Congress are very slim,” said Tracy Mullin, president, National Retail Federation. Retailers are opposed to an increase in the minimum wage, arguing that the concept of setting a wage standard is outdated and only works to put pressure to increase all wages.
“Retailers have found the marketplace sets the rates across the country,” Mullin said.
Meanwhile, a spokesman with the Labor Department said the President is still weighing how much of an increase in the wage to seek.