January 28th, 2014
06:00 AM ET
8 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. Michael

    Doesn't help me. Government workers helping other government works, big shocker there

    January 28, 2014 06:09 am at 6:09 am |
  2. Whatever

    Let the sorely needed wealth redistribution commence!

    January 28, 2014 06:11 am at 6:11 am |
  3. Thor

    A good step forward i'd say. hopefully congress realizes it can't keep sitting on its hands and doing nothing.

    January 28, 2014 06:15 am at 6:15 am |
  4. luckjoe

    Does this include the contractors working on the obamacare web site?

    January 28, 2014 06:16 am at 6:16 am |
  5. Greg

    When I grow up, I want to work for minimum wage!

    January 28, 2014 06:25 am at 6:25 am |
  6. Nick

    And I wonder what he'll do when Congress doesn't appropriate money to the various agencies to offset the wage increase in the budget? Symbolic gesture at best.

    January 28, 2014 06:40 am at 6:40 am |
  7. LdyWolf

    So he's flipping the bird to Congress and raising the minimum wage for federal workers hired from that date forward, which will have to be figured into the bids of contrators, and will raise the bids... which will raise our already ridiculous national debt just that little bit more, and meanwhile I've yet to read anything about the executive order locking the president ad congress in a room with the budget with orders that no one comes out til it makes sense. Go figure.

    January 28, 2014 06:41 am at 6:41 am |
  8. @RI_Roger

    So now only two will be hired for every 3 needed.... that's progress!

    January 28, 2014 06:45 am at 6:45 am |
  9. George

    Does anyone think that when 2017 begins that we will have no more poor? We will always have poor.

    January 28, 2014 06:53 am at 6:53 am |
  10. MM

    Wow. King Obama is at it again....abuse of Power again.

    January 28, 2014 07:10 am at 7:10 am |
  11. Stuffitu

    He has found a way to waste. More of the money people work hard for to benefit the corrupt unions and will be back later this month to tell us we need to raise the debt limit. This is life in the Obamanayion we have become.

    January 28, 2014 07:14 am at 7:14 am |
  12. J.V.Hodgson

    I wish congress ( both parts) would get real. Boosting the minimum wage and continuing unemployment benefits are Growth positive and take people off some benefits. His speech also needs a call for infrastructure spending to really get the economy moving partially paid for thru tax reform. This will reduce unemployment and cut significantly the numbers collecting benefit.
    All the above are common sense and the CBO says for each $ spent the return is grater than a $!!
    looking forward to SOTU.
    Regards,
    Hodgson

    January 28, 2014 07:26 am at 7:26 am |
  13. National insecurity

    Congrats for the government workers on getting a government raise . Meanwhile the rest of America waits in poverty .

    Doesn't matter though with more pay companies have to shell out the more I will have to shell out for the same service or product .

    January 28, 2014 07:31 am at 7:31 am |
  14. kelly

    A raise for Federal workers, thats great. What about the person who lost thier decent job and is working at walmart? or CVS? or Pizza Hut? and trying to support a family?

    January 28, 2014 07:35 am at 7:35 am |
  15. They call me joe.....

    Why do Republicans hate our POTUS so much? He us trying to help all Americans not just the rich folks. Is that really a bad thing?

    January 28, 2014 07:36 am at 7:36 am |
  16. cmml

    Why not, what does Obama care – it's not his money that he's paying, it's ours. Unlike the owner of that Subway franchise by your house, Obama doesn't have to worry about earning a living.

    January 28, 2014 07:38 am at 7:38 am |
  17. Daddy2010

    Is he raising productivity and quality as well?

    January 28, 2014 07:43 am at 7:43 am |
  18. Katherine

    WOOHOO!! Way to go Mr. PRESIDENT.

    January 28, 2014 07:45 am at 7:45 am |
  19. G_Edwards

    How about for those slave-labor Congressional interns we're hearing about? Will they get paid anything for their work?

    .

    January 28, 2014 07:47 am at 7:47 am |
  20. Oakspar77777

    So, we the tax payer have to pay more for the same work or get less work for our tax dollar.

    Mr. Obama is very generous with other people's money.

    January 28, 2014 07:48 am at 7:48 am |
  21. haddock

    Good move. Sadly, there is just no point trying to deal with congressional GOP.

    January 28, 2014 07:48 am at 7:48 am |
  22. S Franklin

    Big spender! Employees working for a federal contractor are likely making far, far more than the general public doing the same job. These contracts are notorious for rampant waste and unnecessary costs. Way to go again idiot!

    January 28, 2014 07:48 am at 7:48 am |
  23. iceload

    Does anyone believe this will make any difference at all?

    January 28, 2014 07:48 am at 7:48 am |
  24. Chris

    So Federal Contractors can't live on less then $10.10 an hour but everyone else can? Thats the message being sent when you only raise the minimum wage for them and not every other hard working American.

    January 28, 2014 07:49 am at 7:49 am |
  25. smith

    This idiot knows nothing about capitalism, the economy, or profit and labor. All he has done is made the rich more wealth, turned more middle class folks into poor people, and given the poor no reason or incentive to thrive for the american dream.

    January 28, 2014 07:49 am at 7:49 am |
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