January 28th, 2014
06:00 AM ET
11 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. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Where's Our $24 Billion?

    Oh no! The dictator is actually doing the will of the people without congressional approval.
    -------------------------------------------------
    Yes, don't you just love that whole "Obama the Dictator" crap?
    Reagan started the ball rolling, seriously rolling, by shipping our manufacturing jobs overseas.
    He left us with a HUGE, HUGE deficit. Moreso than previous and subsequent presidents.
    And then there was that little thing about him forgetting who he was and where he was during his second term.
    What? You think Alzheimers was aon stand by until his second term was over? Please.
    Nonetheless, nobody thought to take the presidential pen out of his crippling hands so that he could no longer sign the over 200 executive orders that he signed.
    And certainly nobody thought to call him a "Dictator".
    Naw-uh. They called him a saint.
    gtfooh with that.

    January 28, 2014 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  2. Malory Archer

    coderneb

    Americans are such suckers for stuff like this. You fall for it everytime. There are NO US Federal contractors getting minimum wage. They are all well above minimum.

    Obama: To improve the growing economy all automobiles must have pneumatic
    tires!

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Actually, contractors have taken over basic services in national parks, etc., providing janitorial services and concessions sales just to name a few. The private business owner who owns the contract to provide those services make out like bandits while paying the people who actually provide the services minimum wage, or a few pennies above. The President should also make it illegal for those contractors to hire foreign H1B visa workers to work at Government-owned facilities. My husband and I stayed at a government-owned, contractor-operated lodge along the Blue Ridge Parkway back in 2007. The entire restaurant staff were eastern European workers there on visas secured by their American contractor employer, and that's just wrong.

    January 28, 2014 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  3. rad666

    I went to federal jobs and keyed in "janitor" and found already the starring wages of:
    $15.80 – $18.44 / Per Hour

    Obama's Smoke and Mirrors traveling show

    January 28, 2014 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  4. Bamada

    Many fed contract employees on my military installation receive minimum wage in dinning facilities, MWR facilities, and other places. Finally, good move.

    January 28, 2014 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  5. Malory Archer

    lavidajudoka

    Obama's heart is in the right place but once again, having never been a business owner, he is very short-sighted on the long-term rammifications. So what this boost in minimum wage really means is that the minimum-wage earners can afford an extra pack of cigarettes or six-pack of beer a week.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Those must be some mighty fine cigarettes and beer those minimum wage workers are consuming if they're only going to be able to afford and extra pack of smokes or six-pack, as increasing the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour would boost a full-time worker's pay by $114 a weeek!

    January 28, 2014 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  6. Maurice

    This is good move for WORKING People! We need more to level the playing field. Lets bring back the TARIFF!

    January 28, 2014 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  7. sftommy

    GOP Fiscal policies of redistributing wealth into the hands of an already rich minority have proven a total failure for generating economic activity.

    Only through higher wages for all will consumer demand create new jobs, new profit opportunities, and increased national wealth. GOP policies have historically proven to be the enemy of business success, proven as true today as ever.

    January 28, 2014 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  8. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    The entire restaurant staff were eastern European workers there on visas secured by their American contractor employer, and that's just wrong.
    -------------------------------------------------
    I am an immigrant Mallory and I agree with your post.
    There are plenty of us over here that could've used those jobs...at a decent wage.

    January 28, 2014 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  9. DC Johnny

    You ignorant liberals have absolutely no clue what a devastating precedent this kind of action puts in place.

    This is how republics crumble. It takes decades, but once the limitations of power start to deteriorate, it's only a matter of time.

    Let me repeat: you ignorant liberals have absolutely no clue what you're doing to us.

    January 28, 2014 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  10. Malory Archer

    rad666

    I went to federal jobs and keyed in "janitor" and found already the starring wages of:
    $15.80 – $18.44 / Per Hour

    Obama's Smoke and Mirrors traveling show

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Yeah, except that's for federal workers, not employees hired by a third-party contractor.

    January 28, 2014 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  11. Malory Archer

    Dominican mama 4 Obama

    I am an immigrant Mallory and I agree with your post.
    There are plenty of us over here that could've used those jobs...at a decent wage.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Right on Mama!

    January 28, 2014 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  12. Huh

    What federal worker makes under $10.10 an hour?????

    January 28, 2014 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  13. Donnie the Lion

    "You ignorant liberals have absolutely no clue what a devastating precedent this kind of action puts in place."

    As a former federal contract worker, you have absolutely no clue what you are talking about. If you want a stronger economy, you have to pump money into the biggest potential consumer base, and that's what this helps accomplish.

    January 28, 2014 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  14. Teamski

    Bravo! Minimum wage right now is a huge farce! People should be able to work a 40 hour work week and be able to squeak out a living. We have big businesses making their largest profits in history with paying peanuts to a huge portion of the American population. The Tea Party and their "get an education and get a higher paying job" is completely out of touch with the reality that industry left this country a long time ago. Along with it, technical jobs that could be had by those without even a high school education. We are moving in the right direction.

    January 28, 2014 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  15. greg

    This President has no sense of economics. He's like the guy at the bank arguing with the teller that he cannot be out of money because he still has checks. Just curious...Was your last raise without a promotion 39%?

    Just in time for his big speech. "Hey, since my approval rating is in the toilet and I lied to get elected I'll just give everybody a 39% raise to gloss over my incompetency at the expense of the U.S. taxpayer."- Your Pal President O.

    January 28, 2014 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  16. Malory Archer

    Huh

    What federal worker makes under $10.10 an hour?????

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Contract workers aren't "federal employees".

    January 28, 2014 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  17. tet1953

    The timing of the SOTU has never made sense to me. Rather than an out-going president making the address, the newly elected one does, days after he or she is inaugurated.

    January 28, 2014 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  18. Brian

    Funny, GOP idiots rail on the President for not being a leader. And when he steps up like this, they call him a dictator. Bunch of whiny cry babies...kinda like their GOP leader with the orange glow and tear stains on his lapel.

    January 28, 2014 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  19. APO_AE_09173

    OK for most Americans this seems like a great deal. It is Utterly Meaningless.
    Government contracts that have "wage grade" positions (hourly wages vs salary) are subject to a law put in place by FDR. It is called the Davis-Bacon act and it sets the wages by area and by labor category all these wages meet or exceed minimum wage and Union wages in the locality of the work assignement. They also guarantee at least a minimum form of benefits.

    I work in government contracting and have for over 15 years. I have yet to see ANY contract from any of the companies I have supported that paid anything close to minumum wage–that includes janitorial services to food service workers.

    This magnamus act on the part of the "Dear Leader" is meaningless. It get him good press until someone actually looks into the Davis-Bacon Act wages and realizes that Obama is just lying his butt off AGAIN.

    January 28, 2014 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  20. jdalco

    wasting more taxpayer money I see. . . tell me where is he getting this money from? Oh ya, the few folks left with jobs that he has not driven into unemployment yet. All this will do is cause more folks to get laid off as the companies cannot just absorb this new expense so they will have to cut back to stay viable. . . Thanks O putting folks out of work again I see. . .

    January 28, 2014 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  21. nonyabidnes2

    There must be an upcoming election. Our leaders think that by tossing coins at the masses they will in turn vote Sounds like the desperate act of politicians.

    January 28, 2014 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  22. Tampa Tim

    Posts by baggers this morning have proven that Fox viewers are the most uninformed group on economics, the constitution, the ACA, and executive powers. Their Complete lack of knowledge of government does get anger up though.

    January 28, 2014 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  23. pogojo

    These workers are paid with taxes taken from the private sector, i am glad that it will require more taxes to be paid so we can pay these workers more money

    January 28, 2014 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  24. Will-I-Am

    GS-1 employees make $9.77 an hour, that is MINIMUM WAGE for federal employees.

    January 28, 2014 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  25. Tony

    More of your blood for the leeches.

    January 28, 2014 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
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