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Rep. John Lewis Speaks on Raising Minimum Wage

January 10, 2007
Press Release

Congressman Lewis made this statement on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives today on H.R. 2 on the Fair Minimum Wage Act 2007.

"Mr. Speaker, I want to thank Chairman Miller for yielding, and I want to thank him for bringing this piece of legislation before us.

"Mr. Speaker, it is unacceptable that we have waited ten years to address this problem- unacceptable. We have waited far too long. Millions of our American citizens, our brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, are working long hours to receive a minimum wage and are still living in poverty. In 2007, we should be ashamed of ourselves. We can do better. We can do much better as a nation and as a people.

"American workers are suffering. They are struggling to fill their cars with gas, to put good food on the table. They are working hard, and they are still living in poverty. That is not right. It is not fair, and it is not just. All American workers deserve good pay for hard work. This is a matter of fairness. This is a matter of human decency. This is a matter of human dignity."

"Nearly 20 states have increased their minimum wage above the federal level. It is time for us in Congress to do the same. In my district, the basic cost of living for a family of three is $27,000. Even with the increase we are considering today, it is still $12,000 short.

"This is just the first step today, and we must do more for working families in the fight against poverty. President Roosevelt said it best when he said that the test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.

"Today, Mr. Speaker, we must pass the minimum wage. It is time that Congress's actions reflect the will of the American people."