Mitt Romney Joins Democrat Attempt To Raise Minimum Wage

( Legislators are trying to increase the federal minimum wage again. This time, though, it’s a bipartisan effort instead of a Democrat-led attempt to push it through without Republican support.

On Wednesday, Republican Senator Mitt Romney from Utah confirmed that he was working on crafting legislation with Democratic Senator Krysten Sinema from Arizona that would increase the federal minimum wage. There are 20 senators who are apparently working to craft this legislation and then present it to the full U.S. Senate.

Romney explained:

“We’re negotiating a minimum wage proposal which we would ultimately take to our group of 20 and see how they would react to it and go from there.

“We’ve pretty much come to the meeting of the minds among ourselves, meaning Senator Sinema and myself, but there are many other people who want to be part of that discussion.”

This group of senators has been working together recently to try to find a way to work across the aisle more often. They are seeking ways to bridge the gap between the two parties so that it’s not always a deadlock in the Senate.

Romney, who has crossed the aisle plenty of times before, is teaming with Sinema, who is considered a centrist Democrat. Romney didn’t have any more details about his proposal, including the timeline. Sinema didn’t comment on the proposal either for the Huffington Post.

West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, another centrist Democratic senator, said he thinks the proposal would raise the federal minimum wage to $11. He didn’t say, though, whether the bill would increase it immediately, or whether it would be gradually increased over time.

As part of the American Rescue Plan, the $1.9 trillion economic stimulus package passed earlier this year, the Democrats tried to force through a minimum wage increase of $15 per hour. That would have been gradually increased over the next four years.

Republicans, though, pushed back hard against it. Ultimately, though, the reason that measure was dropped from the bill is that the Senate parliamentarian ruled it could not be included as part of budget reconciliation. So, Democrats decided to drop that portion of the bill altogether so they could force through their stimulus package without any Republican support.

Manchin and Sinema have also said they wouldn’t support a $15 minimum wage, but it appears both would support a lower mark such as $11. Many senators on both sides of the aisle, in fact, are concerned about how a big spike in the minimum wage would affect certain industries such as restaurants and bars.

In early March, Republicans did offer a counterproposal that would’ve raised the minimum wage to $10 over the next five years. That increase would be tied, though, to businesses using E-Verify, which helps crack down on businesses that hire undocumented workers. It also would’ve left in place the tipped minimum wage, which allows employers to pay workers who earn gratuities a lower base wage.

That counterproposal was quickly shot down by Democrats, though. Now, it looks like the bipartisan group will try to hammer out some sort of a compromise on the issue.