White House Starts Push for $15 Minimum Wage

Author: Michael Cardman, XpertHR Legal Editor

January 25, 2021

President Joe Biden's campaign for a $15.00 federal minimum wage has kicked off in earnest.

Biden has issued an executive order commissioning a report with recommendations about how to promote a $15.00 minimum wage for federal employees. He also plans within the next 100 days to issue an executive order requiring federal contractors to pay a $15.00 minimum wage.

These actions mark Biden's first concrete steps towards enacting his campaign platform of increasing the federal minimum wage. One think tank that advocates for a higher minimum wage views them as a crucial "first step to fifteen," which will help build momentum for a broader increase.

Increasing the federal minimum wage for private employers will require an amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). There is little support for a $15.00 minimum wage among Republicans in Congress, so it is highly unlikely that a standalone bill will pass unless Democrats abandon the filibuster.

Democrats might also pursue a $15.00 minimum wage through a legislative process known as budget reconciliation or by making it part of a compromise around a broader issue such as immigration reform or the budget. The last time Congress passed a minimum wage increase was in 2007, when a three-step increase was included in a massive spending bill.

The federal minimum wage has remained $7.25 since 2009 while the minimum wage for many federal contractors recently increased to $10.95.