Bernie Sanders approves of Biden raising the federal contract minimum wage to $15, urges Congress to act

  • Sen. Bernie Sanders praised President Biden’s $15 minimum wage for federal contractors.
  • Sanders has been a longtime advocate for raising the federal minimum to $15 an hour.
  • Biden also campaigned on a $15 minimum wage, but it was struck from his stimulus law.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

While a $15 minimum wage is not a federal mandate, President Joe Biden is making it a reality for federal contractors. He’s set to issue an executive order today mandating $15 an hour for federal contractors, Insider’s Joseph Zeballos-Roig reports; the hike will go into effect by March 30, 2022.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, a long-time advocate for raising the federal minimum wage, praised the move on Twitter.

“I applaud President Biden’s important action to raise the minimum wage for federal contract workers to $15 an hour,” Sanders wrote. “Congress should follow his lead and end starvation wages for the rest of the nation. Let’s get it done.”

The move by Biden could raise wages for up to 390,000 workers, according to an analysis by the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute (EPI). Per EPI, half of the workers who will get a raise are Black or Hispanic — and half are women.

The federal minimum wage of $7.25 has remained unchanged for over a decade. Sanders was at the forefront of the most recent movement to boost it to $15 an hour. His Raise the Wage Act — which would’ve brought it to $15 by 2025 — was ultimately not included in the American Rescue Plan reconciliation package.

The Senate parliamentarian ruled it did not meet the strict guidelines for reconciliation, and eight Democrats proceeded to vote against it in a Senate vote.

“But let me be very clear: If we fail in this legislation, I will be back,” Sanders told reporters prior to the vote. “We’re going to keep going and, if it takes 10 votes, we’re going to raise that minimum wage very shortly.”

Biden campaigned on a $15 minimum wage, and has reiterated his support for it, although the White House ultimately respected the parliamentarian’s decision, even as progressives pushed them to overrule the decision.

Still, Sanders and Biden have largely been in lockstep with regard to governing; Sanders threw his enthusiastic support behind Biden’s American Rescue Plan, which evoked comparisons to Sanders’ economic policies and vision from two influential presidential campaigns. As Insider’s Nicole Gaudiano and Warren Rojas reported, progressives have found a lot to like about Biden so far — although they’ve pointed to the defeat of the $15 minimum wage as one major disappointment.

Meanwhile, lawmakers continue to hash out the minimum wage debate. Senate Democrats have met to try and make headway on a proposal, while Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema — who voted no on the $15 hike — has been working with Republican Sen. Mitt Romney to craft a bipartisan proposal that may come in at around $11 an hour.

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