On Wednesday, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Representatives Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) are set to introduce legislation into both houses of Congress that, if passed, would raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. Hill staffers are calling it the largest proposed increase in history. Since 2009, the current federal minimum wage—which sets the payment floor across the country—has been $7.25 per hour. The proposed bill would raise the wage in increments until it hit $15 in 2020.
Low wage workers, including those in the fast food industry, have long been advocating for a jump to $15. There have been other recent Congressional attempts to up the minimum wage in the past, but none have been successful, and history hints that Republicans are unlikely to pass the bill, which was drafted by Sanders, who is running for president.
Some cities and tribal governments have circumvented the federal government and instituted their own higher wages. In 2013, a proposal for the highest minimum wage within the U.S. was set by Jackson Rancheria Band of Miwuk Indians in California at $10.60 an hour, along with full medical and dental benefits, paid holidays and more. Think Progress reports that Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle have all set their wage to gradually hit $15. And Emeryville, California’s wage will top out at $16 an hour in 2019. Thirty states plus Washington D.C. have set their minimum wage above the federal level.