WASHINGTON, D.C.- U.S. Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), along with Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Shelley Moore Capito (R-West Virginia), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio), introduced the Higher Wages for American Workers Act Thursday.
According to a news release sent by Senator Cotton’s office, the legislation would gradualy raise the federal minimum wage to $10 an hour and mandate E-Verify to ensure the wage increase only goes to legal workers.
The legislation would also index future minimum wage increases to inflation and includes protections for small businesses.
“American workers today compete against millions of illegal immigrants for too few jobs with wages that are too low—that’s unfair,” Senator Cotton said. “Ending the black market for illegal labor will open up jobs for Americans.
Raising the minimum wage will allow Americans filling those jobs to better support their families.
Our bill does both.” “It’s been more than a decade since the federal minimum wage has been increased, leaving millions of Americans struggling to make ends meet,” Senator Romney said. “Our proposal would raise wages for nearly 3.5 million workers without costing jobs. Additionally, requiring employers to use E-Verify would ensure that businesses only hire legal workers—eliminating a key driver of illegal immigration.”
“This framework balances the needs of employers with opportunities for employees,” Senator Capito said. “This effort demonstrates there are long-term solutions that can be put forth and debated outside of a partisan process that has dubious merit in its implementation in the name of COVID relief.”
“I know how difficult it is for anyone trying to get by on the federal minimum wage, which has not been increased since 2009,” Senator Collins said. “Our bill provides a commonsense solution to help struggling families while avoiding the unintended consequence of small businesses being forced to eliminate jobs or reduce hours for their employees.”
“For years I have supported the way Ohio handles the minimum wage by indexing it to inflation. This takes some of the politics out of the issue, provides more certainty for small businesses and workers, and prevents the sudden spikes that cost jobs,” Senator Portman said. “I’m pleased to support this legislation to provide a responsible and gradual increase to the federal minimum wage after this pandemic ends and then indexing the minimum wage to inflation moving forward. This approach will give both businesses and people the certainty they need and deserve. It also ensures that younger employees seeking their first job are not priced out of the workforce. Unlike the Democrats’ proposal, this bill would protect tipped workers by ensuring they are still able to work in a capacity that ensures they have larger take-home pay. This legislation also ensures use of E-Verify. I’ve taken a lead on advocating for a workable E-Verify because of its proven effectiveness of deterring unlawful immigration and helping employers ensure they are hiring Americans. Hiring Americans for jobs available across the country will be crucial as we our economy continues to reopen and businesses get back on their feet.”
According to Senator Cotton’s office, the minimum wage increase would gradually raise the federal minimum wage over four years and then indexes it to inflation every two years, create a slower phase-in for small businesses with fewer than 20 employees and prevent an increase during the COVID-19 emergency.
Mandatory E-Verify would be mandated for all employers and would be phased in over 18 months to allow small businesses time to comply, raises civil and criminal penalties on employers that hire unauthorized workers or biolate I-9 paperwork requirements and prevents fraud by requiring workers aged 18 or older to provide a photo ID to their employer for verification.
You can see the legislation below.