House passes $15 minimum wage bill

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FILE – This Oct. 24, 2016, file photo shows dollar bills in New York. Gradually raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025 would boost pay for as many as 27 million workers, according to a new report. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

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Washington (CNN) – The House passed a bill Thursday that would raise the federal minimum wage for the first time in a decade — but there is little chance the measure will be taken up in the Republican-controlled Senate.

The House vote for the bill was 231-199. Three Republicans — Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Francis Rooney of Florida and Chris Smith of New Jersey — joined most Democrats in supporting the measure. Six Democrats — including Anthony Brindisi of New York, Joe Cunningham of South Carolina, Kendra Horn of Oklahoma, Ben McAdams of Utah, Kurt Schrader of Oregon and Xochitl Torres Small of New Mexico — opposed it.

The bill was a priority for progressives and gives a victory to a movement that has taken nearly seven years to get this far. But in its current form, the bill has no major support from the Republican side.

The Raise the Wage Act would bring the federal minimum wage up gradually from $7.25 to $15 by 2025. After that year, the rate will be indexed to the median hourly wage of all workers.

In March, House Democrats started the process of passing a bill, but struggled to get support from more moderate members. In recent weeks, party leaders made some key concessions to get enough lawmakers on board. They increased the phase-in time from five to six years, and added a requirement for the government to study the economic impact of the bill after it is in effect, giving Congress the ability to make adjustments in the future.

In 2012, when fast food workers began widely protesting for higher pay, a $15 minimum wage appeared overly ambitious. Since then, some cities and states have raised their local minimum wages to $15 an hour on their own — including Seattle, San Francisco, New York City and then all of California and New York State. Companies like McDonald’s and Walmart stopped lobbying against raising the federal minimum wage, and Amazon adopted a $15 minimum last year.

About 1.7 million people, or about 2.1% of all hourly paid workers, earned at or below the federal minimum wage last year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The US Chamber of Commerce has said it is willing to meet in the middle on some higher minimum wage, but that $15 is out of the question.

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