President Obama is planning to unilaterally go after one of the more popular proposals in his State of the Union: raising the minimum wage, if only for a limited number of workers.
The president will sign an executive order that raises the minimum wage for federal contractors from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour, the White House announced on Tuesday morning, just hours before the State of the Union.
But here’s the catch: The executive order will only affect several hundred thousand workers, as opposed to the 21 million who would see their wages increased if Congress passed a full federal increase. The order benefits workers in the performing services and construction, along with workers at military bases who work in dish-washing, food service, and laundry.
Raising the minimum wage is wildly popular in the United States. A recent Pew poll shows that 73 percent of Americans are in favor of raising the federal minimum wage for all workers. And those numbers are strong across party lines. Some 90 percent of Democrats support the hike, along with 71 percent of independents and 53 percent of Republicans. An NBC News poll released on Tuesday also shows that a majority of Americans think the president’s proposal to increase the minimum wage should be a priority this year.
In last year’s State of the Union, the president proposed a bill to increase the minimum wage to $9 an hour. Proposals in Congress, however, have failed to gain any traction, as many Republican lawmakers have argued that a raise in the minimum wage would stifle business and hurt job creation.
In announcing this latest executive action, the White House still promoted a bill that would boost the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, and said the president will work with Congress to get the bill passed. Whether that can happen is another issue.
Progressives in Congress have been pressuring the president to take action on the minimum wage unilaterally for some time. Back in December, Congressional Progressive Caucus Cochairman Keith Ellison, a Minnesota Democrat, hand-delivered a letter to the president asking him to sign an executive order. It’s unclear, however, if this latest action by the president will totally satisfy the liberal end of his base.
What is clear, though, is that the president is willing to bypass Congress to go after some of his agenda items, at least on small scales. The president on Tuesday night is expected to announce other executive actions that will not require congressional approval.
What We're Following See More »
President Trump’s portrayal of an effort to funnel more Medicaid dollars to Puerto Rico as a "bailout" is complicating negotiations over a continuing resolution on the budget. "House Democrats are now requiring such assistance as a condition for supporting the continuing resolution," a position that the GOP leadership is amenable to. "But Mr. Trump’s apparent skepticism aligns him with conservative House Republicans inclined to view its request as a bailout, leaving the deal a narrow path to passage in Congress."
Facebook "outlined new measures it is taking to combat what it calls 'information operations' that go well beyond the phenomenon known as fake news" on Thursday. Facebook acknowledged that there are governments using its platform as a tool to launch propaganda information campaigns and "manipulate public opinion in other countries. ... Facebook suspended 30,000 accounts in France ahead of last Sunday’s first-round presidential election."
Democrats in the House are threatening to shut down the government if Republicans expedite a vote on a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, said Democratic House Whip Steny Hoyer Thursday. Lawmakers have introduced a one-week spending bill to give themselves an extra week to reach a long-term funding deal, which seemed poised to pass easily. However, the White House is pressuring House Republicans to take a vote on their Obamacare replacement Friday to give Trump a legislative victory, though it is still not clear that they have the necessary votes to pass the health care bill. This could go down to the wire.
Members of Congress are eyeing a one-week spending bill which would keep the government open past the Friday night deadline, giving lawmakers an extra week to iron out a long-term deal to fund the government. Without any action, the government would run out of funding starting at midnight Saturday. “I am optimistic that a final funding package will be completed soon," said Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J., chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.