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Scott: Raising Minimum Wage would have Postive Local Impact

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Lawmakers in Richmond rejected efforts to raise the minimum wage this year. But now Congress is considering raising the federal minimum wage.

And a Virginia congressman is leading the effort.

For states like Virginia, the prospect of raising the minimum wage would have way more impact than in the states that have a locally higher minimum wage than the federal minimum. That’s one of the reasons why Congressman Bobby Scott, a Democrat from Newport News, is using his new position as chairman of the Education and Labor Committee to push to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

“Whereas the recent $1.5 trillion tax bill gave the largest benefits to those who need it the least, this bill puts money directly in the hands of those who not only need it but are also most likely to spend it in their communities,” Scott argued Wednesday.

Scott’s bill would also tie the minimum wage to the median hourly wage. The 3rd District Representative says that would take the politics out of it.

But Republican Congressman Ben Cline from the 6th District in western Virginia says that would be a terrible idea. “You’re going to have a wage that is wreaking havoc across wide swaths of industry being forced to lay off employees," Cline said. "If you have high unemployment in specific regions of the country, this is going to automatically trigger increases in the minimum wage and employers are going to be hit hardest.”

If Congress fails to take action by this summer, it’ll be the longest period without an increase to the minimum wage since it was created during the New Deal in the 1930s.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.