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. Jim

    Another example of arrogance and the flaunting of constitutional intent - the minimum wage has been set, and should be set, by a duly debated law, NOT by presidential fiat

    January 28, 2014 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  2. kingofhearts

    "Executives orders" are the act of a communist dictator. Absolutely no democratic process at all. When are people going to realize this? You are not a KING Obama.

    January 28, 2014 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  3. Jim

    If he ever says anything like, "It's terrible that everything the military / government/etc is expensive" - he shoudl be slapped. HE will be personally responsible for hundreds of government services getting much more expensive.

    January 28, 2014 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  4. kingofhearts

    Raising the pay for workers of the Communist Party USA. When will people see this monster for what he is?

    January 28, 2014 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  5. Moparian

    So when business' pass the increased cost of paying these people $10.10 an hour everybody is going to cry and moan. Dont be surprised when your Big Mac combo at McD is over $10. Businesses are going to pass on those costs to the consumers....

    January 28, 2014 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  6. fedupwithamericanpolitics

    The American Corporate Oligarchy does not want Workers in america to have a living wage. The billionaires and millionaires who own the Republicans and Obama just want you to die so that they don't have to pay for social security or medicare. This is how our top 1% truly behaves. They Exploit for Executive profit. This is America now.

    January 28, 2014 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  7. anothermuse

    What is the Federal Contractor current min level, and what is the projected additional cost of the increase to taxpayers? More importantly, why do I have to ask this question, why don't the professional journalist ask the basic questions to provide a story factual context?

    January 28, 2014 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  8. TheBigT

    I can see MORE layoffs coming now. The President is AGAIN going to OVERSTEP his bounds and ruin this country.
    Worst President in the history of the USA.

    January 28, 2014 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  9. Tim Gray

    My response would be to file impeachment hearings prior to the state of the union address tonight

    January 28, 2014 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  10. Sergeant

    10.10 is not going to change the individual's situation but it says a lot for our society. A great move and a great way to let congress know that either you move forward or get left behind. Dems are going to do well in the elections.

    January 28, 2014 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  11. Bill Myers

    Without question, this is far beyond the powers granted to the Executive by our the Constitution. Of course Barack is simply exercising powers granted to him by a fearful public and gutless Congress. Shameful.

    January 28, 2014 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  12. poppa large

    companies are recording record earnings and profits year in year out. they can afford to bump up what they pay the minions a little bit

    January 28, 2014 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  13. BeenThereDoneThat

    Obama is a Harvard-educated attorney & professor of constitutional law. He knows how far to go with executive orders.

    January 28, 2014 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  14. Namejb Goode

    Obama continues his laser- like focus on job creation

    January 28, 2014 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  15. Paladin Kight

    ""Executives orders" are the act of a communist dictator. " I guess all of the presidents must be communist dictators as all of them have used executive orders.

    January 28, 2014 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
  16. SERIOUSLY?!?

    There goes President Obama again, ignoring the Constitution and trying to "write law" with Executive Orders. He is the President, NOT our King!!! He needs to work with the Congress on these matters and stop trying to legislate from the Oval Office. We need a leader in the White House, NOT a legislator!!!

    January 28, 2014 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
  17. coderneb

    Its an Illusion folks. Obama wants us to think he is for us. How many Federal Contractors does this affect? ZERO! Even the WH cleaning staff are at $20 an hour. Now if the President would have McDonalds cater a few white house events this might be significant.

    For all of you avid Snipe hunters out there, to support our growing economy Obama is raising the limit to 3 Snipes per season.

    January 28, 2014 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
  18. Acidophilus

    So the president continues to push the historically lowest raises to the less than 1% of the most sacrificing Americans, the military service members, but does the great social justice of appeasing the ambition-less menial workers? Tell me how rewarding those who don't seek to do better for themselves is a good thing. If you're cutting costs across the board for the government, you don't increase the standard min wage for fed contract employees. Wasn't there a sequestration in place, or is that only affecting people who actually have to do something worthwhile?

    January 28, 2014 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  19. Frank

    And do you think this is going to give you more money to spend? Guess what. Businesses will have to raise their prices to cover the costs. So that $100 you have saved will be worth less. So your 401K will be smaller, the trip to the grocery store will cost more, the gas for you car will cost more, your car will cost more. It is stupid to think that forcing a minimum wage higher will bring prosperity...

    January 28, 2014 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  20. Publius

    All hail King Obama! Our Dear Leader has declared it; thou shalt be done.

    It's a good thing we have a clear, concise, constitutional rebuttal from our Republican led House of Reps.

    January 28, 2014 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  21. Tim Gray

    Great move? ok, just wait until a Republican is President again and he starts usurping the authority of congress. Minimum wage hasn't been raised because the majority in congress don't want to raise it. But you just said it, Democrats don't want democracy, they want a Nazi style regime where the leader makes all the rules.

    January 28, 2014 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  22. aurelius

    It's about time. Thank you Mr. President.

    January 28, 2014 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  23. Chris e- al.

    Can you add 7.50 –29 ? try to get by on that...!

    January 28, 2014 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  24. fedupwithamericanpolitics

    Bush signed hundreds of executive orders circumventing the congress and doing misdeads. Check your history. We all wanted to Impeach Bush too.

    January 28, 2014 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  25. Jordan

    This won't affect most government workers because government contractors make $12-20 an hour anyways...

    This isn't a pay raise to everyone in the country people, only federal contractors...

    January 28, 2014 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
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