Washington • Democratic Rep. Ben McAdams voted with his three GOP colleagues from Utah on Thursday against a measure that would eventually raise the national minimum age to $15, with McAdams arguing wages should reflect the varied regional economies across the country.
“The federal minimum wage should be increased, but a solution that works in New York City or Los Angeles doesn't work for Utah,” said McAdams, the lone Democrat in Utah's delegation. “We do need the guardrail of a higher minimum wage that helps Utah employees and protects jobs, however this legislation doesn't strike the right balance for Utah.”
The bill, though, found strong support in the Democratic-led House with four Republicans breaking ranks to pass the measure 231-199. McAdams was one of six Democrats to oppose it. Utah GOP Reps. Rob Bishop, John Curtis and Chris Stewart voted nay.
It’s been 10 years since the last increase to the minimum wage, leaving it stuck at $7.25 an hour.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said that because of inflation, a worker at that wage has seen a 17 percent pay cut during that decade. The current bill would raise the wage gradually until it hits $15 an hour in 2025. It also would jettison a loophole that allows employers to pay those with disabilities less than the minimum wage.
“We need to make certain that wages keep pace with the cost of living and with the value of the labor that our people contribute into the economy,” Hoyer said on the House floor. “That’s why we have a federal minimum wage: to ensure that everyone who works hard full time ought to be able to afford not simply to get by but to get ahead.”
Republicans argued that the legislation — which has little chance to pass the GOP-led Senate – would actually hurt the workers Democrats say they’re trying to help.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., pointed to a Congressional Budget Office study that said a $15 minimum wage could lead to the loss of 3.7 million jobs, with women and entry-level employees sharing the biggest burden of that.
“This bill is another misguided attempt by Democrats to impose one-size-fits-all policy on the American people,” McCarthy wrote in the Daily Signal. “It is backward-looking and proves that Democrats are dead set on erasing the progress our economy has made since President Donald Trump took office.”
McAdams, a freshman, said he favors a higher minimum wage but that it should be calculated on the regional cost of living.