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Norton Wants Congress To Increase Minimum Wage

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D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton wants Congress to move on raising the federal minimum wage.
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D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton wants Congress to move on raising the federal minimum wage.

With protests over low wages popping up at fast food restaurants nationwide this summer, D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton says it's time for the federal government to revisit the issue here in D.C.

If you passed through Union Station or one of the museums on the National Mall this summer, chances are you were served by someone making minimum wage—$7.25 is the federal standard, and D.C. pays a dollar above that. The District's high cost of living means many of those minimum wage workers are also relying on the federal government's safety net, and Norton says that doesn't make sense. She wants the minimum wage increased, and says lawmakers should set an example by focusing on the government first.

"We are the federal government, essentially allowing federal contractors to pay the minimum wage and no benefits with the federal government having to pick up the rest: health care, with Medicaid, food stamps," she says.

In his State of the Union address, President Obama called for hiking the minimum wage by about two dollars. Congress never took up his proposal, though, and the White House has been focusing on other issues this summer.

The issue has also resonated locally, as D.C. lawmakers passed a bill that would require Walmart and certain other large retailers to pay $12.50 an hour. Mayor Vince Gray hasn't yet said if he will sign or veto the bill.

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