Utah Sen. Mitt Romney is proposing to raise the federal minimum wage to $10 an hour and tie future increases to inflation, while also trying to curb illegal immigration.
The legislation that Romney, R-Utah, and Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., plan to introduce would also ensure wage hikes only go to legal workers and includes protections for small businesses.
The proposal is short of the $15-an-hour minimum wage President Joe Biden has pushed as part of his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package. But Politico reported last week that Biden told a group of governors and mayors that it isn’t likely to happen, at least in the near term.
Two Democrats, Sens. Joe Manchin, of West Virginia, and Kyrsten Sinema, of Arizona, have said they oppose a $15 minimum wage. Manchin told CNN on Monday that he would push to reduce the wage increase from $15 to $11 per hour if it remains in the stimulus bill.
Romney told Utah reporters in a conference call earlier this month that he favors raising the minimum wage but not to the level Biden has suggested.
“I’m not in favor of the $15 wage being immediately applied, but I do think we should raise the minimum wage and link it to inflation,” Romney said.
Making the “enormous” leap from $7.25 to $15 would “crush” small businesses and put people out of work, he said.
Raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025 could deliver raises for 27 million workers and lift 900,000 Americans above the poverty threshold — but the policy would cost 1.4 million Americans their jobs over the next four years, according to a study released by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.
Romney said he prefers wage increases move on a predictable basis, so small and large businesses would have a better sense of what future costs might be and how to plan for them.
By Dennis Romboy for DESERET NEWS
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