January 28th, 2014
06:00 AM ET
7 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. Samuel Johnston

    Well Mr. President, it's a nice gesture but the truth of the matter is even that is barely good enough for a 3rd world nation.

    In America for the less then $40k college debt people it will require 3 part time jobs to average out to that increase.
    While the college graduate can look forward to working as a temp. In between the call center job.

    The point is Mr. President, America is only in name anymore, her best days died some 30 years ago. All we ask is that you stop the 1% from stealing all of the wealth out of this country and thereby creating even more poverty here. Notice how I never mention redistribution, I'm all for capitalism but capitalism that is kept in check by not allowing greed to lower the standard of living for everyone else because in the long run it lowers it for even those who are extremely greedy.

    They just haven't felt it yet or figured it out yet. I suppose when the gated communities of America are stormed it may sink in.

    January 28, 2014 08:13 am at 8:13 am |
  2. American Worker

    The media has already written President Obama's speech for him.
    All he has to do is stay on script.

    January 28, 2014 08:14 am at 8:14 am |
  3. Canukman

    Obama's attempt to at least partially address the critical issue of income inequality demonstrates that he is perhaps the wisest president your country has had since Lincoln worked to end slavery.

    January 28, 2014 08:15 am at 8:15 am |
  4. Adam

    The king has spoken, and it's coming out of your pockets!

    January 28, 2014 08:15 am at 8:15 am |
  5. G_Edwards

    "Minimum wage for federal contractors to be $10.10/hour"

    But not for Federal interns??? Another example of Pres Obama not walking his talk.

    .

    January 28, 2014 08:15 am at 8:15 am |
  6. ShawnDH

    This is a good step, but minimum wage should be more in the range of $15-$17/hour in order to be a living wage. People who work full time should be able to make a living without government assistance. Businesses will be fine and workers will be much better off. And, we can cut spending on welfare. There's nothing to oppose here, and the spectacle of millionaires and billionaires opposing a minimum wage increase is sickening.

    January 28, 2014 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  7. Austin

    About time

    January 28, 2014 08:17 am at 8:17 am |
  8. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Use that pen Mr. President, and use your phone too!
    You've given the block-everything Congress well over 5 years to do what's right, to compromise, to get things done, and nothing. They will have nothing to do with you.
    If you're for it, they're against it even if they were for it before you were for it.
    We've all seen and witnessed it.
    You have my blessings and the blessings of millions like me who are tired of the stagnation.
    St Reagan invoked his executive powers well over 200 times.
    He was one of the WORST, if not the worst President in regards to the deficit, and let's not talk about Iran-Contra (wonder how Ollie North is doing, but I digress).
    They never called the B-actor a dictator for availing himself of them, you've only used yours a 100 or so times do your best to catch up I say.

    January 28, 2014 08:19 am at 8:19 am |
  9. Rick McDaniel

    Obama is a fraud. He is a total dictator in America........who intends to take total control of our country, and turn all of us into peasants.

    The truth is.........the Federal government has been farming out their business.......out of the country. So what he will be doing is raising the amount he PAYS OTHER COUNTRIES to do our work. It will not benefit Americans at all.

    Time to demand his resignation, and depose this dictator.

    January 28, 2014 08:20 am at 8:20 am |
  10. Chris e- al.

    Everyone should agree the min wage should go up...all together now. on this. im a repub .this will good for our family s an tha party ...

    January 28, 2014 08:20 am at 8:20 am |
  11. MIchael

    I love how its only for federal contractors... gotta feed the pig... almost if not the most useless president/government in history! I guess as a nation made up of mostly uneducated voters that the government will enslave us in their socialism because the portion of voters believe the government show do everything for them including wipe their rear!

    January 28, 2014 08:20 am at 8:20 am |
  12. john

    He is just trying to buy more votes for his fellow liberal socialists in the election. Just like the free cell phones

    January 28, 2014 08:20 am at 8:20 am |
  13. Gib

    Emotional topic, helping the poor, the homeless, the abandoned, the huddled masses. We all want to help the helpless. Raising wages for any group across the board does nothing to usher them into the next level. It only increases the chance that minimum wage jobs is all they will seek....ever. We see the immediate need and want to do the right thing. We don't see how any of it affects the rest if it. If we all end up making 15 an hour, the fast food and retail giants will still dominate our lives. Obesity and lack of ambition will reign. Not a good direction. Certainly not for long.

    January 28, 2014 08:21 am at 8:21 am |
  14. Johnny 5

    Where might this extra money for such a wage increase be coming from? Better yet, where are the "shovel ready" jobs that are needed to make this relevant?

    January 28, 2014 08:23 am at 8:23 am |
  15. we see your true color by your talk

    obama really wants to start a revolution

    January 28, 2014 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
  16. Drknowitall

    I wish they would have put a statistic up about how much that actually would cost the taxpayers per year. Just because I am curious. Raising the minimum wage is one issue, an issue that never seems to get addressed. Taxes are high, and we continuously spend more than we bring in. When are we going to make the unfortunate cuts that will be necessary eventually.

    January 28, 2014 08:29 am at 8:29 am |
  17. BrickellPrincess

    If we can afford billions in foreign aid, we can afford to increase the minimum wage for AMERICANS!!!

    January 28, 2014 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
  18. kenneth rogers

    why only federal contractors? i will be watching the address to see what he says about bridging the income gap.

    January 28, 2014 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
  19. Tom Trouve

    This is how the President is destroying America! By acknowledging that in 2014 $7.25 just doesn't cut it. Small businesses like ours have been paying $10/hr not because we are doing great, but because we acknowledge and realize that laying 7.25 is modern day slavery. Keep on, keep on Mr. President, we reelected you because you can relate to average America.

    January 28, 2014 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
  20. BGatrat

    He mind as well pack them all lunches while he's at it.

    January 28, 2014 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  21. Jake from Canada

    Generally, I'd be supportive of this move. It sends a strong signal and WILL inject money back into the economy. However, there is a possibility that the contractors will simply raise the bids for the contracts and negate the positive affects of the raise. That being said, if that happens, but the conversation turns to making the federal minimum wage for all workers in the country to $10.10 then it will be a success. Even if manufacturers raise their prices by one or two cents on the dollar, there will still be more money flowing through the economy and hense more taxes to be collected. It will also create jobs as demand should increase with the available funds. I believe that this is the President's goal. And if it works out, I think it's great.

    January 28, 2014 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  22. Name jk. Sfl. GOP CRUZ lee&rubio 24billion dallar LOSS of your tax money conservatives,the garbage of America.

    Screw the GOP congress, they will get trounced in the November election anyway. They just hide behind obamacare while they continue to obstruct EVERYHING while they continue to do nothing. And the GOP thinks their going to get realected and keep the house and pick up seats in the senate with their idiot teaparty extremest canadates , not going to happened!!!!!!!

    January 28, 2014 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  23. g

    thank the job shippers for destroying america

    January 28, 2014 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  24. BoxcarOscar

    Why not let the market decide? You know, what amount of money someone is willing to pay for labor meeting what someone is willing to take in exchange for their own labor? I know that seems way too simple, but how is this answer any more complex? I'm not sure if declaring that the economy is "better" due to the recent gains in the stock market and making it a rule that everyone needs more than 10 bucks an hour on Federal contracts makes any sense whatsoever. There is a big difference in inequity and inequality, and sometimes, the folks who are loading up an industrial washing machine are in no way suffering an inequity when they are paid $7.25 and only deserve equality of working conditions, not wages.

    January 28, 2014 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  25. Lars

    President Obama's pen has Spoken......Let the recovery begin for the middle and lower class of America.

    In spite of congressional Republican obstructionism designed to impede President Obama from governing, the President has finally come to the realization that the GOP has no intention to ever work with him, and that he must now take it upon himself via the Presidential Executive order to move this country and its people forward.

    The reality is that the Republicans trashed our economy during the term of former President Bush, and then had the gall to blame President Obama, all while faking scandal after scandal; and telling lies about the Affordable Care Act.

    January 28, 2014 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
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