Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007

Date: Jan. 10, 2007
Location: Washington, DC

FAIR MINIMUM WAGE ACT OF 2007 -- (House of Representatives - January 10, 2007)


Mr. PEARCE. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman and thank the colleagues across the aisle for this important debate.

I think one of the things that should be brought to our attention is that the debate is not subject to amendment. We are not able to really consider and take action based on our considerations.

We received a communication from Rebecca Dow, who is the founder and executive director of Apple Tree Educational Center, a nonprofit institution serving low-income/at-risk children in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. She stated that if a Federal or State minimum wage passes, the reimbursement for child care assistance is going to be so low that providers cannot continue providing service for low-income families. For programs like Apple Tree, it will mean closing. There are going to be unintended consequences.

As a small business owner myself, I will tell you that we are not talking about the middle class working for minimum wage. I will tell you that we are not talking about people who are right in the midstream of the employment force. I will tell you that we are talking about giving jobs to people who are not and have not in the past been hirable.

We brought one man in who was 40 years old, tattoos from one end to the other. He told me after working 6 months he had never had a job, a full-time job, in his whole life. Because we could bring him in at a lower level, we did not have to have productivity, he was allowed to learn on-the-job training. That gentleman is still employed at the company which my wife and I sold after we came here because we were able to give him an entry level wage at an entry level job without much demand for performance.

In the last session, the last Congress, I voted to increase the minimum wage when the protections were there for small businesses. It is the small business people who get caught in the middle.

We heard from our colleagues on the other side that many small businesses support minimum wage. If that is so, they have got the instrument to do something about it. They simply increase wages. But it is those small businesses, family owned businesses, where the decisions are made, on the living room sofa and the dining room table. Those are the people that you are going to put up against very hard economic circumstances, people like Rebecca Dow, who is going to have to close her institution that provides child care assistance for low-income families in an area that has no other provider for this sort of service. I think these are the things that we should be talking about and should be making allowances for, rather than rushing this bill to the floor in the manner that it is today.

I appreciate your concern for the working families and for the businesses of the country. There are changes that we need to make.