U.S. Senators Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Tom Cotton (R-AR) today announced plans to introduce the Higher Wages for American Workers Act, legislation which would gradually raise the federal minimum wage to $10 and mandate E-Verify to ensure the wage increase only goes to legal workers. The bill will also index future minimum wage increases to inflation and includes protections for small businesses. A summary of the legislation, which they plan to introduce in the coming days, can be found here.

“For millions of Americans, the rising cost of living has made it harder to make ends meet, but the federal minimum wage has not been increased in more than ten years,” Senator Romney said. “Our legislation would raise the floor for workers without costing jobs and increase the federal minimum wage to $10, automatically raising it every two years to match the rate of inflation. Additionally, our bill would protect American jobs by requiring employers to use E-Verify to ensure that businesses cannot hire illegal immigrants. We must create opportunities for American workers and protect their jobs, while also eliminating one of the key drivers 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.”

Background on the Higher Wages for American Workers Act 

Minimum Wage Increase:

  • Gradually raises the federal minimum wage to $10 over four years, and then indexes it to inflation every two years.
  • Creates a slower phase-in for small businesses with fewer than 20 employees.
  • Prevents any increase during the Covid-19 emergency.

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.