Two dozen of the nation’s top business leaders will gather on Capitol Hill on Wednesday and Thursday to rally support behind the Fair Minimum Wage Act, an effort to raise the federal minimum wage to at least $10.10 per hour over the next two years, the Agenda Project, a nonprofit progressive group, announced Tuesday.
In anticipation of an upcoming Senate vote on the measure, conservative and liberal business leaders in the Smart Capitalists for American Prosperity and Business for a Fair Minimum Wage will meet with more than a dozen senior White House officials and Capitol Hill leaders, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), to garner support for the House Democrats' version of the bill.
The groups will also meet with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) to devise a strategy to get the bill through the GOP-controlled House.
Ben Cohen, co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and a member of Smart Capitalists, has served as a vocal advocate for minimum wage reform, even accusing corporations that pay "poverty wages" of criminal behavior.
“There is only so much Chunky Monkey one rich guy can eat. For Ben & Jerry’s to succeed, we need more than one ice cream buying rich guy,” Cohen said in Tuesday’s press release. “Raise the minimum wage and everyone can have a scoop.”
Former White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles, also a Smart Capitalists member, added that a fair minimum wage “will ensure dignity for our people and our families.”
In February, President Barack Obama issued an executive order to increase the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour for a few hundred thousand federal contractors before advising Congress to follow suit.
"Raising the minimum wage is good for business, it's good for workers and it's good for the economy," Obama said at the time.
Later that month, House Democrats launched a discharge petition to force a vote on the minimum wage issue, but they were unable to secure the 218 votes needed.
While most congressional Republicans oppose a higher minimum wage, a February HuffPost/YouGov poll found that a majority of Americans, 62 percent, support raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour.