Will the Biden administration raise the federal minimum wage?

The Millennial Source
5 min readJan 14, 2021

This appeared in The Millennial Source

It’s an ambitious policy goal that would dramatically affect the incomes of low-wage earners. Only time will tell if Democrats in Congress will actively pursue it.

With President-elect Joe Biden set to take office in less than two weeks, focus is shifting to what policies the new administration will tackle. With Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff having won their races in the Georgia runoff elections, Democrats are set to take control of the Senate, giving Biden more leeway to deliver on his campaign promises.

One of Biden’s economic promises was that he would support raising the federal minimum wage to US$15 an hour. This would more than double the current national minimum wage of US$7.25 an hour, a figure that has held steady since 2009 despite inflation and the rising cost of living.

The Democrat-controlled House of Representatives did pass a bill in July 2019 that would have gradually raised the national minimum wage to that level over the following six years. However, that bill was never taken up by Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

At the time, some expressed opposition to the House’s bill, calling it “a devastating blow to small businesses.”

Nonetheless, raising the minimum wage to US$15 is a popular policy, with a 2019 Pew Research poll finding two-thirds of the country in support of it. As with most issues, there is a partisan divide, with far more Democrats supporting it than Republicans. Among the GOP, the divide is relatively small, with 57% against US$15 an hour and 43% in favor of it.

But even with Democratic control of both chambers of Congress, the fight for a US$15 minimum wage could be contentious. With a 50/50 split in the Senate, Republican senators could still filibuster or delay any legislation and prevent the chamber from taking a vote. If Democrats hope to pass any progressive legislation, they may need to abolish the filibuster, a controversial step.

Biden has also promised to index the minimum wage to the median hourly wage. This means that, as pay at the top end of the wage spectrum increases, the federal minimum wage would increase with it. This would…