Raise the Wage Act

Floor Speech

Date: July 22, 2019
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. McKINLEY. Mr. Speaker, working Americans are rightfully concerned with their salaries and wages. H.R. 582, the ``Raise the Wage Act'' was an attempt to address this issue by increasing the minimum wage up to $15/hour. Unfortunately, this is not the right approach. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) stated that this could result in the loss of up to 3.7 million jobs.

Incremental increases in the federal minimum wage are appropriate, and I was proud to support West Virginia's recent increase of the minimum wage to $8.75/hour. But the fact is, H.R. 582 did not account for regional differences in cost of living. $15/hour may work for places like Manhattan and San Francisco but would devastate small businesses in the Mountain State.

Further, such a drastic increase in the minimum wage would harm those workers that this bill claims to help. CBO has estimated that of the millions of jobs lost, 46 percent will be young workers and 38 percent will be those without a high school diploma. For every person lifted out of poverty by this bill, another 1 to 3 jobs would be put at risk.

If Democrats in Congress are serious about addressing issues surrounding the minimum wage, they should have proposed legislation that accounts for regional factors and slowly increases it to a more reasonable level, instead of pushing a one size fits all 107 percent increase nationwide. Unfortunately, this legislation would have been unworkable for West Virginia and I was given no other choice but to oppose it.