WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — The fight for 15 is sweeping across the country. Six states, plus a number of big cities, plan to enact a $15 minimum wage by 2025.
And now a plan to make it nationwide is gaining support among Democrats.
“I think that it’s important that we move the minimum wage up. I just don’t believe that a one size approach is the best approach.”
Alabama Democratic Rep. Terri Sewell says a blanket $15 federal minimum wage fails to account for the big difference between small-town Alabama and New York City.
“My friends talk about having to park their car and having to pay $35. My hometown of Selma, Alabama nobody is paying $35 to park their car a month, let alone for a day.”
That’s why Sewell says going to 15 for the whole country at the same time is a bad idea. She says it could hurt small businesses in rural areas and lead to layoffs.
This week, Sewell and a dozen other Democrats offered their own plan. It would raise the federal minimum wage more gradually based on the cost of living in a particular area.
Leaders in the Fight For 15 movement don’t like it.
$15 is the bare minimum said one union president. A McDonald’s employee in Memphis, Tennessee added it “will do nothing but keep people stuck in poverty.”
“I don’t think we should be randomly increasing the minimum wage just because it makes a good talking point,” said Rep. Bruce Westerman.
Republicans like Arkansas Congressman Bruce Westerman are skeptical of both plans. And that means neither has a great chance of becoming law anytime soon.
What the competing minimum wage bills do represent is a battle within the Democratic Party over how hard to push liberal policies as they shape their message for the 2020 elections.