January 28th, 2014
06:00 AM ET
3 months ago

Obama to raise minimum wage for federal contractors

(CNN) - While President Barack Obama’s attempts to increase the nation’s minimum wage through legislation have stalled in Congress, the White House announced plans on Tuesday to use the president’s executive powers to partially address the problem.

Just hours before the President is scheduled to deliver his fifth State of the Union address, the White House revealed that Obama will issue an executive order to increase the minimum wage for new federal contract workers.

The action will cover all workers employed under future government contracts, ensuring that none is paid less than $10.10 an hour. In a fact sheet announcing the action, the White House highlighted several occupations that will be helped by the move, including kitchen and laundry workers on military bases, as well as janitors at federal buildings and construction workers at government building sites.

“The President has embraced the idea in the past that he can use his authority as President and the powers available to the President to advance his agenda on behalf of the American people,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said at his briefing on Monday. “What we have said is that he views 2014 as a year of action and that he has tasked his team to come up with new ways in which we can - he can - advance that agenda.”

An administration official confirmed the action will only apply to new contracts, and the White House believes contractors will have time to factor the new wage requirements into future bids.

Included in Tuesday’s announcement was a call for Congress to pass an increase in the minimum wage nationwide and an endorsement of a proposal put forward by two senior Democrats, Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa and Rep. George Miller of California. The proposal would raise the minimum wage for all workers in stages, ultimately reaching $10.10 an hour, while also indexing the wage floor to inflation going forward.

Tuesday morning, House Speaker John Boehner pushed back against the executive action by the President.

"This idea that he's just going to go it alone, I have to remind him we do have a constitution. And the Congress writes the laws, and the President's job is to execute the laws faithfully. And if he tries to ignore this he's going to run into a brick wall," the top Republican in the House told reporters.

"Were just not going to sit here and let the President trample all over us," Boehner added.

The White House says the President has the authority to make the move.

Cecilia Muñoz, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, said in an interview Tuesday with CNN Senior White House Correspondent Jim Acosta that the President "clearly has the authority" to raise the minimum wage for federal contract workers.

Obama has made wages and economic inequality a central theme of his second term in office, raising the issue repeatedly, including during a call for an extension of emergency unemployment benefits in his first public event of 2014.

“America is getting stronger, and we've made progress,” the President said. “And the economy is growing, and we've got to do more to make sure that all Americans share in that growth. We've got to help our businesses create more jobs. We've got to make sure those jobs offer the wages and benefits that let families rebuild a little security. In other words, we've got to make sure that this recovery leaves nobody behind. And we've got a lot of work to do on that front.”

Two national polls conducted in the past two weeks both indicate widespread support for raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. Seventy-two percent of those questioned in a CBS News survey and 73% of those questioned in a Pew Research Center poll said they favor the move. Both surveys indicated a partisan divide, with around nine in ten Democrats and seven in ten independents in support of raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, and Republicans divided.

CNN's Jim Acosta, Brianna Keilar, Dana Bash and Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.

soundoff (545 Responses)
  1. informed

    I can tell you he is full of crap. My wife works in the laundry room of a federal goverment contractor and she makes $22.35/hr. This is all smoke and mirrors as no worker makes just minimum wage in the contract sector.

    January 28, 2014 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  2. LOL

    Eh Obama – its that time again to make sure people like you. And keep your fingers crossed that they will vote for you once again.

    January 28, 2014 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  3. radar8

    The people whining that the taxpayers will have to pay for this are missing the point. People making less than $10 an hour are likely on assistance and that is paid for by the taxpayer. So you already pay for these people. Raiding their pay will allow some to get off of assistance, lowering the impact on taxes.

    January 28, 2014 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  4. radar8

    The same people that are posting here against raising the minimum wage, whining that it will cost taxpayer money, are the same people that wanted the government shut down, costing billions of dollars. They're also the same people that support trillions for the military to fight wars for oil.

    Sure....money for the rich, the corporations and the military, but nothing for the poor citizens of this country. That's about as un-American as it gets. Shame on all of you.

    January 28, 2014 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  5. radar8

    Informed 0- You need to get informed. Your wife is not the only one that works for federal contractors. Some do make minimum wage. Obviously, not your wife. Tell her she gets paid too much and to give it back. I love it when people accept what the government gives to them, but wants to deny others.

    January 28, 2014 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  6. Unsure

    So he didn't raise the minimum wage for anyone else aside from government contractors?

    January 28, 2014 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  7. A Democrat who's Honest about Obama

    Nobody makes minimum wage in the contract sector for the gov't. This is smoke and mirrors.

    January 28, 2014 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  8. A Democrat who's Honest about Obama

    It's a completely symbolic, pointless move.....that the media will lap up.

    January 28, 2014 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  9. Robert Lemasters

    Let us elect real working class. productive and qualified citizens to public offices who will work to make our economy productive and locally owned and controlled, then there will be real jobs that produce real wealth and livable wages. the one percenters have off-shored and closed fifty thousand factories, out-sourced tens of millions of jobs, encouraged and protected thirty million Mexican immigration law breakers and given them American jobs. They have brought in hundreds of thousands of foreign HB1 workers instead of training and hiring US citizens including our veterans. So in addition to getting rid of the cadre of career polticans who are owned by these traitor one percenters let us rid our Republic and communities of the one percent.

    January 28, 2014 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  10. Wayne

    why does bainer react like its his money?

    January 28, 2014 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  11. MathIsFun

    Median income 1968 – $8632/year~$4.15/hour. Minimum wage 1968 – $1.60/hour~$3328/year. Ratio-2.59 minimum wage to median wage. Median income 2013 – $51,017. Minimum wage should be $9.47/hour based on simple ratio to median income. Also, 1968 @ $1.60 is the cherry picked highest minimum wage in history when adjusted for inflation. When adjusted for inflation minimum wage should be $6.77 adjusted for 1990…and no that isn't the cherry picked lowest point in history.

    January 28, 2014 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  12. MathIsFun

    CEO pay to typical worker pay is on average 354 times greater in the S&P500. Raising the minimum wage does very little to this ratio. Typical worker pay (median income) to minimum wage is 3.38 times greater. Raising the minimum wage reduced this to 2.43. The middle class lost nearly 30% of it's gains against entry level unskilled kids. CEOs are still making >800x minimum wage. This increase does nothing to that income inequality. It serves only to create more poor people

    January 28, 2014 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  13. Will

    How About Raising The Minimum Wage For All Workers, Not Just Government Contractors! Cost Of Living Has Increased For Years Yet Minimum Wage Stays The Same! Why Not ???

    January 28, 2014 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  14. Will

    How About We Take The Money Out Of Politics And Then Have A True, Honest, Election For The People And By The People!

    January 28, 2014 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  15. Guest007

    as a amall business owner i dont oppose raising minimum wages as long as he stop raising my taxes

    January 28, 2014 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  16. will i am

    I agree, give people a chance to live. Obama Four more years..... I know who ever want to response.... Hillory Clinton is our first female next President..... Why not. Get her done America, lets get back what we deserve a chance... Fight for what's right don't argue the facts, their facts that's wrong. BELIEVE.........

    January 28, 2014 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  17. tony Gonzales

    It would be great to have minimum wages for all raised, not all Republicans are rich I'm Republican and I work my butt off 13-14 hrs a day labor work for 8.50 so my fellow Republicans support this Change

    January 29, 2014 12:01 am at 12:01 am |
  18. kevin

    Minimum wage is not the issue, not having good paying jobs is the issue. Not only high tech jobs for college grads but good paying bust your butt jobs that you can get from projects like keystone.

    January 29, 2014 12:16 am at 12:16 am |
  19. jimmy hargrove

    When minimum wage goes up this will help a lot of parents who receive child support. There are a lot of dead beat parents that love to pay the bare minimum...so let's see how they like this. Although ,the president needs to give to all people and not just a select few. Is he scared that some republicans or tea party members might get a little of the increase....news alert...all the republicans and tea party folks I know WORK for what they get...how bout them apples

    January 29, 2014 03:13 am at 3:13 am |
  20. common sense 101

    Every time minimum wage is increased, the cost of goods and services increase. Small businesses get impacted the most, so they have too make a choice. Do I keep my employees or get rid of some to afford the increase? I'm not making any extra money to pay them, so how do I handle it? The individuals that work hard and make between 10 and 20 dollars an hour will have to figure out how to feed their kids, or figure out how to keep current on their bills, because they're paying more for most everything you buy at the store. Reason? Prices have to be increased on products too pay employees. So now we have more people struggling. How does that make any sense? Not a good idea right now. It will do nothing more than stall any progress we have made in this economy. You make minimum wage increases when an economy is doing great, which ours is not. You think you're hurting now?

    January 29, 2014 05:53 am at 5:53 am |
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