Senate Democratic Women Urge Republicans to Help Women and Families by Raising the Minimum Wage

Washington, DC - U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Patty Murray (D-WA), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) held a press conference today to urge Republicans in Congress to support legislation to raise the minimum wage, which would lift the wages of 15 million women in America.

The Senate Democratic women discussed the importance of passing the Minimum Wage Fairness Act, which would raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to $10.10 per hour, in three steps between this year and 2016.  

Nearly two-thirds of those who earn the minimum wage or less are women, and two-thirds of tipped minimum wage workers are women. Right now, a woman who works full-time in a minimum wage job to support her kids earns just $290 a week, which adds up to just $15,000 per year – below the poverty line for a single mom. 

“The women of the Senate are coming together to say – it is time to raise the minimum wage in this country,” Senator Boxer said. “No one in America should have to live in poverty after putting in a full day’s work, and yet that is the case today. The good news is that when we raise the minimum wage, it will lift the wages of 15 million women nationwide.”  

“Women need a raise so they can raise their families,” Senator Mikulski said. “Right now, the minimum wage is at an all-time low. For a woman making the minimum wage, a full time job means full time poverty. They’ll work the day shift in order to make one wage, and then often moonlight with a part time job at night to barely make ends meet. I’m fighting in the Senate to push for a living wage and fair pay. That’s why I’ve introduced the Paycheck Fairness Act to ensure women have a fighting chance to be able to raise their families. Because equal pay is not just for our pocketbooks, it’s about family checkbooks and getting it right in the law books.”  

“The economic pressures facing American women and children are severe,” Senator Feinstein said. “I have spoken to women in Los Angeles with two children who are working two minimum wage jobs just to rent an apartment and put food on the table – and still many remain at or below the poverty line. This income inequality is a growing problem in our country that not only threatens to undermine the fundamental fairness and stability of our economy but will impact future generations. The fastest way to reverse these inequities is to raise the minimum wage. The Democratic women of the Senate today spoke with one voice: it is time for Congress to follow California’s example and increase the minimum wage for all workers across the country.”  

“Republicans have to decide whether they are really going to block giving 15 million American women a raise,” said Senator Murray. “My hope is that over the next month our Republican colleagues do a little soul searching as they prepare for this vote. I also hope they talk to the millions of American women who are struggling to get by on $7.25 an hour, particularly at a time when many of these women are the sole caregivers and breadwinners in their families.”

“Raising the minimum wage is especially important for women. Moms and dads in Michigan and across the country who are working full time to support their families should not find themselves in poverty. Raising the minimum wage will help millions of families and grow our economy,” Senator Stabenow said.  

“People in Washington state are raising their voice loud and clear about income inequality and about the need to raise the minimum wage,” Senator Cantwell said. “Washington has the nation’s highest minimum wage at $9.32, and we were the first state to index that to inflation. Some people have said: ‘Well, hasn’t that hurt your economy?’ No, just the opposite – our state has the 4th-fastest growing economy in the country by GDP.”  

“Raising the minimum wage isn’t just the right thing to do for families and workers – it’s also the right thing to do for our economy,” Senator Klobuchar said. “Given that 70% of our economy is consumer-based, when American families can’t afford to go out and buy things, everyone suffers.”

“Low wage workers who are falling behind and struggling to get by deserve a raise. Increasing the minimum wage will have a real benefit for hardworking New Hampshire families and the economy as a whole, especially for women who make up almost 70 percent of minimum wage workers in my state,” said Senator Shaheen.  

Senator Gillibrand said, “Two nights ago, I could not have stood up quickly enough when President Obama said, ‘It’s time to do away with workplace policies that belong in a Mad Men episode… Because I firmly believe when women succeed, America succeeds.’ With more dual income households than ever before, and more female headed single parent households than ever before – there is no doubt that when women succeed America succeeds. It’s time for Congress to give women a fair shot and raise the minimum wage.”  

“Women make up two-thirds of the minimum wage earners in the country. That’s why the time is now to give hard-working American women a raise,” said Senator Baldwin. “We can do that if both parties work together to reward hard work, so an honest day’s work pays more. I look forward to working with my colleagues to pass the Minimum Wage Fairness Act and give American women the raise they have earned.”  

“My mother raised three children as a single parent while working minimum wage jobs. I know what it’s like when your family runs out of money at the end of the month and how every dime matters. Today, the minimum wage has not kept up with inflation and the purchasing power of families has gotten smaller. It’s well past time that we raised the minimum wage,” said Senator Hirono.  

“Full time work should not be rewarded with full time poverty,” Senator Warren said. “Hardworking men and women who are busting their tails in full-time jobs should have a chance to support themselves and their families and build a little economic security. It is time for Congress to act and raise the minimum wage.”

Additional information