NEWS & ANALYSIS

Sens. Romney, Cotton to Introduce Bill to Raise Minimum Wage, Ban Businesses from Hiring Illegal Aliens: What Would This Mean?


Republican Senators Tom Cotton and Mitt Romney are set to introduce a bill Tuesday, which would raise the minimum wage and ban businesses from hiring illegal immigrants. 

Cotton announced the bill in a series of tweets, noting it would gradually increase the minimum wage while making sure illegal immigrants aren’t stealing American jobs. 

“Millions of Americans are struggling to make ends meet. I’m introducing a bill with Sen. Romney to give them a raise by increasing the minimum wage and ensuring businesses can’t hire illegal immigrants – protecting American workers,” he wrote. 

“Today, Americans have to compete against millions of illegal immigrants who take illegally low wages under the table. We can fix this by requiring employers to verify the legal status of every worker so they can’t undercut Americans on the black market,” he added. 

“At the same time, Congress hasn’t raised the minimum wage in more than a decade, so the paychecks of our poorest workers buy less than they did in 2009. This is leaving many Americans behind. Our proposal gradually raises the minimum wage without costing jobs and then sets it to increase automatically with inflation. This minimum-wage increase will go into effect after the pandemic has ended and include protections for small business,” he continued. 

“We have an obligation to protect our workers and fellow citizens. This common-sense proposal will give millions of Americans the raise they deserve,” he concluded. 

Romney also shared the news in a series of tweets. 

This announcement comes as Nancy Pelosi plans to send a revised COVID-19 relief bill to the Senate, which would include a $15 minimum wage, the Daily Caller reports. Pelosi said the House plans to have their bill completed by the end of February and on Joe Biden’s desk by March 14. 

“We hope to finish our markups in committee this week and then send it to the Budget Committee next week for them to work their will on it. Then to the Rules Committee and then to the floor. And we hope to have this all done by the end of February,” Pelosi said in a press conference. 

While this may sound like a dream scenario, it’s not.

Restaurant owners expressed concerns over raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to $15, warning that restaurants could be forced out of business by such a large increase. 

In a Heritage Foundation forum last week, Betsy LeRoy, owner of Pizza by Elizabeths in Delaware, blasted the proposed hike. 

“This is not the time for a federally mandated minimum wage [increase]…the unintended consequences of this are far-reaching,” she said. 

“The president and his team may understand Delaware politics, but I’m not sure they understand the difficulties of Delaware restaurants. How else to explain his proposal to raise the minimum wage for our servers and bartenders from $2.23 an hour to $15 – an increase of more than 400% – which would be a death knell for our industry?” she said. 

Indeed, restaurants are struggling perhaps the hardest amidst the coronavirus pandemic. With egregious lockdowns and restrictions on both indoor and outdoor dining, restaurants are struggling to stay afloat. A drastic federally mandated pay increase could force the restaurant industry into greater turmoil. 

A study released Monday by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office revealed that increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour could increase wages for 27 million workers and lift 900,000 Americans out of poverty, but it would also eliminate 1.4 million jobs over the next four years, the Daily Signal  reports.