Democrats Promised $15 Dollar Minimum Wage: Was Their Promise Kept?


Lorie Shaull

Senator Bernie Sanders speaks at a rally in St Paul, Minnesota. Sanders is an advocate of raising minimum wage.

Lillian Kay, Staff Writer

The $15 minimum wage bill was not included in the COVID relief bill. President Biden has pushed for the minimum wage increase, but the bill has faced many difficulties in Congress. 

Heading in the 2016 election, some Democrats claimed they would try to raise the national minimum wage to $15 an hour. On January 1, 2021, the minimum wage increased to $14 per hour for employers with 26 or more employees and $13 per hour for employees with 25 or fewer employees in certain states. The Democratic Party’s action of adopting the $15 minimum wage platform was an effort to help struggling Americans and American families. According to CBS News, “Minimum wage workers won’t be seeing a raise as part of the federal coronavirus relief efforts.” 

“If any senator believes this is the last time they will cast a vote on whether or not to give a raise to 32 million Americans, they are sorely mistaken.””

— Vermont of Senator, Bernie Sanders

The $15 minimum wage amendment had a rough path to be adopted by the Democrats because moderate Senate democrats like Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona expressed their opposition to raising the minimum wage. They opposed increasing the minimum wage because it would cause a loss of jobs for other people and small businesses would go under if they had to pay employees more.

Bernie Sanders’ amendment would have continuously raised the current federal minimum wage to $15 over a time period of 5 years. The increase for this year would be to $9.50. For reference, the current federal minimum wage is $7.25. 

Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi said: “27  million people will get a raise, 70% of [whom will be] women.”

Congress has not raised the federal minimum wage since 2009, as a part of the amendment of a defense spending bill. Meanwhile, the tipped minimum wage has not been raised since 1991. 

The minimum wage was not included in the COVID-19 relief bill due to the many difficulties that the bill has gone through in Congress. The fight to raise the minimum wage will continue as time goes on, and in the future, the bill may be passed. Until then, some Congress members fear minimum-wage American families will stay in poverty.