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Congresswoman Maxine Waters

Representing the 43rd District of California

Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007

August 5, 2009
Floor Statement
Rep. Maxine Waters [D-CA]: Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from California, Chairman Miller, and I rise in support of H.R. 2, the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007.

I am pleased that the Democratic leadership has taken a straightforward, no-holds-barred approach to expediting consideration of this legislation. And frankly, I am ashamed that it has taken so long to increase the minimum wage by so little.

What we do here today is a clear indication of the philosophical difference between Democrats and Republicans. My party, the Democratic Party, has tried to raise the minimum wage for nearly 10 years because we believe in live and let live. We believe that families should be fairly paid for their labor. We believe that wage earners, the true backbone of this Nation, should be able to put food on the table, roofs over their families' heads, clothes on their families' back and to have basic health care.

Mr. Speaker, $5.15 is totally unacceptable. No family can live on $5.15 an hour. Many wage earners are working two and three jobs, both husbands and wives and even their children, trying to make ends meet. Americans deserve better, and Americans expect their representatives to assist them in their quest for a decent quality of life.

Today the story will be written about the difference between those who stood up for the least of these and the those who came to this floor and continued to bring unconscionable arguments to deny low-income wage earners a mere $2.10 increase over their income in a 2-year period.

Many States could not wait for Congress to act, and they have undertaken to increase their wages. In my own State of California, the minimum wage effective January 1 of this year has increased to $7.25.

Mr. Speaker, 6.6 million people will benefit from raising the minimum wage. The economic gap between the rich and poor is growing. Too many people are living at or below the poverty line. When we pass this bill, we will all feel better about ourselves.

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