Pelosi Floor Speech in Support of the Raise The Wage Act
Speaker Pelosi. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I thank the gentleman for yielding. I thank him for his extraordinary leadership, historic, really, giving us this opportunity today to do something very special for the American people, for America’s working families.
This is an historic day. Yes, because we are raising the minimum wage here in the House of Representatives, because we are channeling the energy of so many people across the country for fairness in the workplace, but it also happens to be the 171st anniversary of the Seneca Falls Convention.
The Seneca Falls Convention shook the world when they had that convention with the simple proclamation that all men and women are created equal. This bill achieves that equality, giving nearly 20 million working women, that is nearly one-third of all working women, a raise, and it helps narrow the gender wage gap that disproportionately targets women of color, putting more money in the pockets of more than one-third of working women of color.
So today, we wake up for a day of jubilation because of the sense of fairness this legislation engenders. We wake up with a smile on our face, showing the world with all the love in our hearts and that love in our hearts is about fairness for the American people.
It is interesting to note, Mr. Chairman, that as has been acknowledged, I just heard Congressman Levin mention, and others as well, that it has been ten years since the federal minimum wage was raised, in the previous Democratic Majority, and had been eleven years before then when we passed it in 2007. And it was signed by, it was signed by President Bush. So, it was bipartisan and we were thrilled about that.
But it is interesting to see what has happened in the time since then. While families work hard to make ends meet, the cost of living has surged to unsustainable highs, inflation has eaten nearly twenty percent of their wages and the GOP special interest agenda has left them far behind.
I have mentioned that this is about equality for women. It is also about 30 million people in our country getting a raise. 30 million people. And so many people being lifted out of poverty.
I talked about ’07. That is when we passed it first in the House. It took a little more time for it to be law, going through the Senate and the rest.
But when we passed it, and we were so thrilled, knowing that the President would sign it, we had a big rally on the – outside the Capitol. And as soon as the rally was finished, Senator Ted Kennedy, who had been a really important part of the Senate action on the raising the minimum wage, he said, ‘You know what we have to do now? We have to raise the minimum wage.’
We always have to be anticipating and injecting fairness all the time. We must never stop fighting to honor the dignity of work and push forward for working families and women, again, affected so drastically in all of this.
The American workers deserve a raise. No one can live with dignity on a $7.25 per hour wage. Can you?
The Raise The Wage Act honors workers, supports families, as I say, giving 33 million Americans a long overdue raise, and lifting many out of poverty. The bill grows our economy and increases families’ purchasing power and drives economic growth that lifts up all communities. Consumer confidence of America’s working families is an important element in growing our economy. And it brings our country, our democracy, closer to the founding ideals of holding the bedrock idea of fairness in our country, that hard work deserves a decent wage.
I urge strong bipartisan vote for this victory for working families and for America, because every Member of this institution should be fighting to put more money in the pockets of workers in their communities. Again, I thank Chairman Scott and I yield back the balance of my time.