Press Release ● Jobs & the Economy
For Immediate Release: 
January 16, 2019
Contact Info: 
Mariel Saez 202-225-3130
WASHINGTON, DC - This afternoon, House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) joined Education and Labor Committee Chair Bobby Scott (VA-03) and House and Senate Democrats to introduce the Raise the Wage Act. They were joined by American workers as well as a business owner who pays his employees $15.00 an hour. Below is a transcript of his remarks:

“I want to thank [Education and Labor Committee Chair] Bobby Scott for his leadership. Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi, who as she said, the last time we were in charge, one of the first things we did was raise the minimum wage. It was not enough then. It is clearly not enough now.

“I want to thank Senator [Patty] Murray for her leadership; Representative [Mark] Pocan and Representative [Stephanie] Murphy, good friends; and all of those who have joined with us. Senator [Bernie] Sanders, thank you for your leadership. 

“For the least of these, as my faith tells me, we ought pay attention not to the wealthiest of these, but the least of these. That will be our judgment.

“What if I told you that 50 years from now, your purchasing power would be reduced by 40%? That’s what we’ve done. In 1968, the purchasing power [of the minimum wage] was 40% higher, and that was when $1.60 was the minimum wage. It was 40% higher than it is today, 50 years later. Is there any doubt that people are stressed, and angry, and hurting? And families are not as healthy and enjoying their well-being as much as they ought to in the richest country on earth?

“And yet, as Senator Sanders and so many others have pointed out, what did we do in the last Congress? [Republicans] took care of billionaires and multi-millionaires, and multi-corporations, before we reached out to those who were making the least.

“This bill will seek to make some progress. It’s not where we need to be, Senator, you know that, but it makes progress, and progress is important. I offered a heightened minimum wage when [Speaker] Nancy [Pelosi] and I were serving on the Labor Health Committee. It passed in Committee in 2006, and my Republican colleagues, who were in charge, refused to bring the bill to the Floor.

“I will tell you, not only is Mr. Scott going to bring this bill to [Committee], but I am going to put it on the Floor.

“You've already heard what this will do, but it will also make our economy fairer, and more successful, ending discrimination against people with disabilities, eliminating 14c contracts that allow employers to pay for the sub-minimum wage. That is important to me because I was the sponsor – along with a lot of others, along with Speaker Pelosi – of the Americans with Disabilities Act. You worked on that with us, Senator.

“Raising the minimum wage will help low-income families, but it will help all of us. It will help all families. This is a family issue for all of us, and it will help [the] elderly as well because their children will be helped.

“This increase is not just good policy for the lowest income earners. It will help lift all boats as I said, by pushing wages higher across the economy for average working people.

“Moreover, it will help local businesses in every corner of America by boosting, as Senator Sanders said, consumer spending. You give a multi-millionaire a tax cut. He doesn’t spend it. He doesn’t have to spend it because he has enough spending money. But you give somebody who is making a minimum wage or just getting by [a raise], they spend that money and it makes the economy work. Seventy percent [of GDP] is the consumer spending in America.

“Thank you, Chairman Scott and Education and Labor Committee Democrats for their hard work on this bill. I look forward to bringing it as I said, to the Floor. Now I want to introduce to you somebody… The gentleman I am going to introduce you to has a business. He has a number of businesses, and he believes, not only in the minimum wage, but he pays his people today, not waiting for 2024, today, $15.00 an hour.

"He is from Kansas City. He owns a hotel and restaurant in Kansas City, and he plans to open two more restaurants in 2019. Howard currently pays, as I just told you, his workers $15.00 an hour. This is a person who is going to tell you it’s not bad for business, it’s good for business to pay your people so that they are not anguishing every day about how they are going to pay their bills and support their family. They are going to be focusing on what they do, and you are going to be more productive, more profitable, and more successful. Ladies and gentlemen, a terriffic American, Howard Hanna from Kansas City, Missouri."