Romney, Cotton, Colleagues Introduce Bill to Raise Minimum Wage

Legislation would also mandate E-Verify to ensure rising wages go to legally authorized workers

WASHINGTON— U.S. Senators Mitt Romney (R-UT), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), and JD Vance (R-OH) today introduced the Higher Wages for American Workers Act, legislation which would gradually raise the federal minimum wage to $11 and mandate E-Verify to ensure the wage increase only goes to legal workers. The bill would also index future minimum wage increases to inflation and includes a slower phase-in for small businesses. Romney and Cotton first introduced the bill in 2021. Text of the legislation can be found here and a one-pager on the bill can be found here.

“Despite rising costs of living, the federal minimum wage has not been increased in more than a decade, which has left millions of Americans struggling to make ends meet,” Senator Romney said. “Our proposal would raise wages for millions of workers without risking jobs, and tether the wage to inflation to ensure it keeps up with rising costs. Additionally, requiring employers to use E-Verify would ensure that the wage increase goes to legal workers, which would protect American jobs and eliminate a key driver of illegal immigration.”

“American workers today compete against millions of illegal immigrants for too few jobs with wages that are too low—that’s unfair,”Senator Cotton said. “Ending the black market for illegal labor will open up jobs for Americans. Raising the minimum wage will allow Americans filling those jobs to better support their families. Our bill does both.”

“We need to have a responsible conversation about how to increase the minimum wage for American workers,” said Dr. Cassidy. “Proud to support Senator Romney’s legislation that provides a measured approach to raising the minimum wage while also protecting American jobs.”

“Few issues are as important to the American people as the availability of good jobs in our communities, and I recognize the difficulties for anyone who is trying to make ends meet while earning the federal minimum wage that has clearly not kept pace with inflation,”Senator Collins said. “Our bill provides a commonsense solution to increase wages for millions of Americans for the first time in ten years while avoiding the unintended consequence of small businesses being forced to eliminate jobs or reduce hours for their employees.” 

“The Higher Wages for American Workers Act successfully balances the needs of employers with opportunities for employees, which is critical,” Senator Capito said. “I’m proud to join my colleagues in introducing this legislation, which demonstrates that long-term solutions can be put forth and debated outside of a partisan process.”

Background on the Higher Wages for American Workers Act    

Minimum Wage Increase:

  • Gradually raises the federal minimum wage to $11 over four years, and then indexes it to inflation every two years moving forward.
  • Creates a slower phase-in for small businesses with fewer than 20 employees.

Mandatory E-Verify:

  • Mandates E-Verify for all employers, phasing in implementation over 18 months to allow small businesses additional time to comply.
  • Raises civil and criminal penalties on employers that hire unauthorized aliens and/or violate I-9 paperwork requirements.
  • Prevents fraud by requiring workers 18 and older to provide a photo ID to their employer for verification, which will be cross-referenced if a photo is available through the E-Verify system.