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After a Decade Freeze, House Votes to Raise Minimum Wage

Congressman Yarmuth Victorious in First Floor Speech

(Washington, DC)  On the floor of the House of Representatives today, Congressman John Yarmuth (KY-3) told his colleagues that it is "our responsibility, our moral obligation, and our great opportunity" to raise the wages of America's lowest paid workers, and they responded.

By a vote of 315 to 116, the House voted to raise the minimum wage from $5.15/hour to $7.25/hour over the next two years.  The vote marks the first time in a decade that Congress has approved an increase-the longest the minimum wage has gone unchanged since it was first implemented in 1938.

In his remarks to the House, Representative Yarmuth pointed out the minimum wage increases have always benefited the economy, and have never led to unemployment.  He then drew attention to the 30,000 minimum wage workers in Louisville who "go to work everyday and come home to a life of poverty."

The measure, which now awaits approval by the Senate before it can be signed into law by President Bush, will raise the wages of 5.6 million minimum wage workers.  As a result, it is expected to increase the pay of 7.4 million additional low wage workers.

"This is just the beginning," Yarmuth said of the bill's passage.  "In these hundred hours and for the next two years, we look forward to passing many measures that will decrease the burden on struggling families, and increase their opportunity to build strong successful futures."  Yarmuth spoke specifically of legislation decreasing interest rates on college loans, lowering prescription drug prices, and minimizing energy costs.