President Joe Biden on Tuesday night will use his first State of the Union address to renew a push to increase the federal minimum wage, a proposal Democrats tried but failed to enact last year.
“Raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour,” Biden will say, according to prepared remarks released by the White House.
Biden last March signed the $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill, also called the American Rescue Plan — but the minimum wage-hike had been previously ruled out of the measure by an official known as the Senate parliamentarian. While popular with many Democrats, the parliamentarian said the wage increase didn’t pass muster for the budget process that Biden’s party used to advance the bill.
Polling has shown that about 60% of adults say they favor raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour from the current rate of $7.25. The president’s plea comes as his party is facing an uphill battle to retain control of the House of Representatives, and perhaps the Senate, in next fall’s midterm election.
While the issue may be politically popular, getting a $15 minimum wage through the closely divided Senate could be a tall order. Two Senate Democrats, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, last year rejected putting the increase in Biden’s COVID package. But lawmakers have floated other ideas — such as raising it to $11 or $12 an hour instead.