Pelosi Remarks at Press Conference on Raising the Minimum Wage

Apr 21, 2016
Press Release

Contact: Drew Hammill/Evangeline George, 202-226-7616

Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks at a press conference with Department of Labor Secretary Tom Perez, Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, Assistant Leader Jim Clyburn, Committee on Education and the Workforce Ranking Member Bobby Scott, Senator Chuck Schumer, Senator Dick Durbin, Senator Patty Murray, Christine Owens with the National Employment Law Project and Jessica Owens with Restaurant Opportunities Center United, renewing the call to raise the federal minimum wage for working families.  Below are the Leader’s remarks:

“Thank you very much.  Thank you, Senator Patty Murray, and thank you for your leadership, again, in the budget as a statement of our values, supporting an increase in the minimum wage as a recognition of the role that it plays in growing our economy.  It’s about the individuals and what it means to them in their lives.  But without more purchasing power, our economy cannot grow.  Thank you, for being in the lead on that perspective. 

“I just want to put this gathering here in perspective.  It’s an honor for all of us, of course, to be here with Secretary Perez, a tremendous honor to be with Jessica Wynter Martin and to hear her story.  But, when we passed the $7.25 – in 2006, the first item was increase the minimum wage.  We were able to get it up to $7.25, which sounds like a very low number now, but at the time, it was an increase that we could pass and get signed by President Bush.  As soon as we had a celebratory rally outside the Capitol with House and Senate Democrats, Senator Kennedy came off away from the microphone, and he said, ‘You know what we have to do now?  We have to raise the minimum wage!’  You know that having been an associate of Senator Kennedy.  ‘We have to raise the minimum wage.  We just did.  We need to do it right away again.’  And here we are, several years later – it’s even more urgent. 

“It is really important for us to recognize that we must value work.  We’re so proud in California of having raised the minimum wage to $15 an hour – same thing in New York.  We sort of are a little bit competitive in that regard.  But whatever it is, we have to move forward.  It’s so essential to the lives of America’s families.  In our ‘When Women Succeed, America Succeeds’ agenda, the first pillar is pay – equal pay for equal work but also, raise the minimum wage, along with affordable child care and paid family leave and retirement security.  But, the wage issue – essential to the success of those families.  How could it be that a family – two wage earners working full time at the minimum wage – cannot afford to put food on the table, in this, the greatest country that ever existed in the history of the world? 

“So, it’s important for what it means to our children, to their future, to the economic security of their families.  But, we will never have the recovery in our economy unless we increase the paychecks of America’s workers – and that will lift everyone.  And as I say, we’re honored to have a VIP – distinguished Secretary of Labor, Secretary Perez.  But, our true VIPs are our guests who are here, and I’m pleased to yield to Jessica Wynter Martin, a worker [at Restaurant Opportunities Center United].  Welcome.  Thank you.”

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