During Stimulus Markup, Phillips Announces he will Lead Small Business Committee Hearing on $15 Minimum Wage

February 11, 2021
Press Release
Phillips: "I intend to invite American small businesses to come before our committee to discuss the $15 minimum wage proposal, its impact on their businesses, and how we might accomplish the trifecta of livable wages, more jobs, and thriving small businesses. They are not mutually exclusive objectives."

WASHINGTON, D.C — During a late night stimulus markup yesterday, Rep. Dean Phillips (MN-03) announced that he will lead a Small Business Committee hearing on the impact a federal $15 minimum wage would have on American small businesses and jobs. The upcoming minimum wage hearing will be the Congressman’s first as chair of the Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations and Regulations.

WATCH: Rep. Phillips announces he will lead Small Business Committee hearing on $15 minimum wage

Remarks as prepared:

I believe DEEPLY in living wages for all working Americans and often say that consumption is the engine of our economy and money in peoples’ pockets is its fuel.

In fact, the small business my family and I own already pays a $15 minimum wage - not because the law requires it, rather because it’s a principle in which we believe.

The fact that a single mother in America can work a forty hour week at a $7.25 federal minimum wage AND LIVE BELOW THE POVERTY LINE is as appalling as it is embarrassing to our nation.

Congress MUST address this injustice just as it must meet the moment during the worst public health and economic crisis of our lifetimes. However, I am troubled that we’re adding the minimum wage policy to this COVID relief package through reconciliation.

And I was shocked to learn how few small business owners - the very people this committee is entrusted with representing - how few were consulted as this legislation was being drafted.

And I am willing to wager that there is not a single member of this committee who isn't receiving communications from local business concerned about the implications of the policy on the viability of their enterprise.

Just days ago I heard from Ken, the owner of The Original Pancake House in Plymouth, Minnesota. Like so many businesses which rely on public gathering to succeed, his is barely hanging on. His restaurant - like all restaurants - runs on thin margins during the best of times, and Ken is deeply concerned that a $15 minimum wage will mean he will have to cut jobs if he hopes to stay open.

I trust we all agree that representation begins with listening - and we should afford small business owners like Ken the opportunity to be heard before we proceed with the implementation of such a transformative policy.

According to the CBO, the policy as written will likely raise wages for 27 million Americans, raise almost a million out of poverty and increase aggregate wages by over $300 billion over ten years - all outstanding outcomes. But if it’s at the expense of 1.4 million jobs and the likelihood of many thousands of business closures, as the CBO and economists anticipate, we should investigate, deliberate, and ultimately implement a mitigating policy that addresses those unacceptable consequences.

So while we cannot accept this amendment because it doesn’t meet Senate parliamentary requirements relative to reconciliation, I believe it’s an important issue - for businesses and employees - that warrants a more robust discussion and deliberation in this body.

To that end, as my first order of business as Chair of the Oversight and Investigations subcommittee, I intend to invite American small businesses to come before our committee to discuss the $15 minimum wage proposal, its impact on their businesses, and how we might accomplish the trifecta of livable wages, more jobs, and thriving small businesses. They are not mutually exclusive objectives in my estimation, and I believe we can accomplish it - if we simply commit to working together with intention and bipartisanship.

In closing, I invite my colleague from Wisconsin to join me at that hearing and to work with me - following this markup - in sending a letter to the GAO requesting a study on the impact of a $15 minimum federal minimum wage on small businesses throughout the country.

With that, I yield back.

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