Today, Sen. Tom Harkin, Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, and Rep. George Miller (D-CA), Senior Democrat and former chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, issued the following statement in response to President Obama's call for an increase to the federal minimum wage in his State of the Union address. Harkin and Miller have been working together on legislation to increase the minimum wage and provide for automatic future increases based on changes in the cost of living.
"In his State of the Union address, the President made it clear that raising the minimum wage is a necessary step in the effort to grow our economy and strengthen middle class. We could not agree more. It is more apparent than ever that working families struggling to make ends meet on today's minimum wage, just $7.25 per hour, need and deserve a raise. By acting now to raise the minimum wage we will lift families out of poverty while simultaneously giving a significant boost to our economy. An increase in the minimum wage is long overdue.
"The last time Congress passed a minimum wage increase was more than five years ago. Since then, more than a dozen states, red states and blue states, have acted to raise their own minimum wage levels. It is well past the time for Congress to raise the federal minimum wage to ensure working families do not live in poverty and to help grow the economy for everyone.
"The two of us have a long track record of working together on this issue in Congress, and we have been working together again this year on our own new legislative proposal to raise the minimum wage to $10.10. Our proposal would ensure that minimum wage workers, often in difficult and dangerous jobs, will not fall into poverty.
"While we believe the President's proposal is lower than what is needed, there is no question that last night he threw the door open for a robust discussion on the importance of raising the minimum wage. We look forward to working with the President and our colleagues in the House and Senate on enacting a minimum wage increase as soon as possible."