Padilla Joins Sanders in Fight to Raise the Minimum Wage

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) voted in support of Senator Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) amendment to the American Rescue Plan to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. Padilla delivered a speech on the Senate floor in support of the amendment along with Senator Sanders, Chair of the Budget Committee, Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Chair of the HELP Committee, and Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Chair of the Finance Committee.

WATCH: Full Video of Padilla’s Remarks

Full transcript of Padilla’s remarks as delivered:

SANDERS: And I see the Senator from California, Mr. Padilla. And we are delighted that he is joining us. And his state has been one of the leaders in this country raising the minimum wage and I yield the floor to him for his remarks.

PADILLA: Madam President.

PRESIDING OFFICER: The Senator from California.

PADILLA: Madam President, I rise today in support of working men and women across the country.

And I’m proud to stand with Senator Sanders, who has been a champion for working people.

Let me be clear: raising the minimum wage is COVID relief.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the immense, underlying inequities in our nation.

It has also driven home how important essential workers are to our society and to our economy.

Millions of Americans do essential work but are not paid a living wage. 

They work as home-health aides, assisting elderly family members meet their basic needs with dignity. They produce our food, stock our grocery shelves, keep facilities clean and safe, care for our children, and so much more so that we can go to work. 

They’re on the front lines of this pandemic, risking their health, yet still struggling to keep themselves and their families healthy. They shouldn’t also have to struggle to keep a roof over their heads and food on their table.

Both of my parents worked jobs that are considered essential today. For 40 years, my father worked as a short-order cook. For the same 40 years, my mom was a domestic worker. And it’s people like them, all over America, who work hard, with dignity, yet still struggle to make ends meet.

That is not the American dream. Far from it.

It’s finally time that Congress does something about it. There is strong bipartisan support throughout the country for raising the minimum wage.

I’m proud to say that my home state California has been a leader in the Fight for 15. And just this past year, the voters of Florida – yes, Florida, the state that voted for Donald Trump not once, but twice – approved a $15 minimum wage by a 20 point margin.

That’s because Americans – both Democrats and Republicans who know that one of the most straightforward ways that we can help working people is by raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Now, California is a big state, we’re a very diverse state, full of diverse communities with local variations in the cost of living and local business conditions.  Just like the rest of the country.  

And let me tell you, the sky did not fall when California enacted a $15 minimum wage.

Now, I know some of our colleagues have argued that raising the federal minimum wage would reduce employment opportunities for American workers. 

The facts show otherwise. 40 years of studies have found little to no significant impact of wage increases on employment levels.

Some of my colleagues have also argued that eliminating the tipped minimum wage nationwide would harm earnings for workers. 

That also has not happened.

Again, research has found that eliminating the tipped minimum wage has no significant impact on employment. 

At the same time, median hourly wages for tipped workers are higher in equal treatment states like California compared to those with a tipped minimum wage.

Madam President, 1.7 million Americans make the federal minimum wage. That’s $15,000 a year income. 

We must be honest with ourselves: no one can meet the minimum standard of living on a minimum wage of just $15,000 a year.

Now, raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour would also help reduce some of the gender and racial inequities in our nation, that Senator Sanders has referenced, given the overrepresentation of women and minorities in jobs that earn the minimum wage.  

And it would give them more money to spend in their local economies, which in turn is good for businesses.

But most importantly, it would lift hundreds of thousands of families out of poverty.

Think about that. We have the opportunity to lift hundreds of thousands of families out of poverty. This isn’t just an opportunity; it is a moral responsibility.

No one who works a full-time job should live in poverty. It’s that simple. We must stand on the side of hard-working Americans. 

I call on my colleagues to continue the Fight for 15 and pass the Sanders amendment to bring justice and prosperity for all American workers.

Thank you, Madame President. I yield the floor.