WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is renewing his efforts to raise the federal minimum wage. He says the U.S. needs to stand up for working families who are struggling to make ends meet.
“Nobody in this country can survive on $7.25 an hour,” Sanders said.
Thursday, alongside workers and labor groups, Sanders announced his latest push to raise the federal minimum wage.
“You can’t make it on nine bucks an hour, you can’t do it on 12 bucks an hour. We need an economy in which all of our workers earn a living wage,” Sanders said.
Sanders is now calling to raise the federal minimum wage, over a five-year period, to $17 an hour.
“15 (dollars) isn’t even enough for what we’re going through today,” Union of Southern Service Workers Bertha “Mama Cookie” Bradley said.
“The last minimum wage bill passed by Congress was in 2008,” Sanders said. “Do you think it’s time to raise it? I do.”
But opponents say raising the minimum wage will kill small businesses and spike inflation.
“Most of the data shows that the minimum wage does not have a good track record of reducing poverty,” said Michael Saltsman, executive director of the Employment Policies Institute.
Saltsman said even a $15 minimum wage could lead to job loss.
“If you do this nationwide, businesses aren’t going to have that option to expand in lower-cost areas,,” Saltsman said, “so instead I think you’re going to see a rash of business closures.”
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said because of the different costs of living around the country, Washington shouldn’t even be involved.
“I don’t think the federal government should be in the business of setting that,” Cornyn said. “I think it should be up to the states or a negotiated item between employer and employee.”
But despite that opposition, Sanders said he’s confident he can get the support his legislation needs to pass.