Congressman Tim Bishop, a Southampton native and Democrat, filed a discharge petition in the U.S. House of Representatives Wednesday morning designed to bring to the floor a bill to raise the minimum wage.
Bishop is a co-sponsor of H.R. 1010, The Fair Minimum Wage Act, which would increase the minimum wage to $10.10 over three years. It would also tie future annual increases to inflation and increase tipped wages to 70 percent of the minimum wage.
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi “knows how strongly I feel about this issue and she asked me if I wanted to take a leadership position; and I said, ‘I’d be delighted to,'” Bishop explained in an interview with Dan’s Papers Wednesday afternoon.
Bishop and lead sponsor George Miller, a California congressman, held a press conference at Capitol Hill today with the House Democratic Caucus to promote the discharge petition, which 150 Democrats have already signed.
Bishop said he is confident all 199 House Democrats will sign the petition. But, he explained, in order for the petition to be successful it requires the signatures of 50 percent of the House members plus one, or 218 votes. That means 19 out of 232 House Republicans would need to buck their party.
“I think it’s going to be a challenge to be perfectly honest,” Bishop admitted. “The minimum wage has been an issue the Republicans have shown little interest in supporting.”
The Republican leadership is not in favor of a minimum wage increase, and the leadership exerts strict discipline over its members, according to Bishop.
“In the past, this has always been a bipartisan issue,” he added. He said an increase in the minimum wage is consistently favored in the high 60s or low 70s according to polls. “This has such overwhelming support from the American people.”
If the bill is forced to the floor, it would be subject to debate and amendments before going up for an up-or-down vote. According to Bishop, the bill hasn’t been permitted to come up in committee yet, despite being filed back in fall.
In the State of New York, the minimum wage is $8. It will increase to $8.75 next year and will reach $9 in 2016. Because the federal minimum wage supersedes the state minimum, if the Fair Minimum Wage Act were to be signed into law, the new minimum in New York and across the country would become $8.20 in 2014, $9.15 in 2015 and $10.10 in 2016.
Bishop appeared on MSNBC Wednesday to push for the discharge petition. He also has a Sirius XM interview lined up Thursday and more media requests coming in. He said he hopes the publicity regarding the minimum wage bill will raise the visibility of the issue with the American people, who will call his colleagues from the other side of the aisle to ask why they haven’t signed on.
Watch Bishop’s interview on News Nation with Tamron Hall today: