HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — U.S. Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania said Tuesday that he is adding his support to legislation to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, joining the party’s growing chorus at the state and federal level ahead of the 2020 presidential election.
The bill Casey is joining is already backed by 30 fellow Democrats. It is written by U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and backed by five other Democratic senators who, like the politically independent Sanders, are seeking the party’s nomination to run for president.
Casey acknowledged that winning passage in the Republican-controlled Senate is a tall order, but that it is important to build support for it now if a Democrat is elected president in 2020.
“I would not be a candidate during 2020 running for Senate or Congress not supporting this because I think it’s popular across the board,” Casey said. “Not only do people know the data on wages, they’ve lived these lives of very little wage growth and I think it’s the No. 1 economic challenge that we have.”
Pennsylvania’s other senator, Republican Pat Toomey, has long voted against bills to raise the minimum wage. His office said Tuesday that states are free to make their own decisions on minimum wages and that Toomey does not believe the federal government should impose policies “which destroy existing jobs and prevent the creation of new jobs.”