Rep. Elaine Luria (D-VA) flip-flopped on her national minimum wage position after saying an increase would hurt small businesses on the campaign trail.
As a candidate, Luria (pictured) opposed changing the federal minimum wage, saying it “could cause risk” to small businesses, while favoring a localized minimum wage hike.
At a candidate’s forum in May 2018, Luria argued against an immediate rise in the minimum wage, warning it “could cause risk to my business and other businesses.” Luria further explained, “A gradual raise in the minimum wage indexed with inflation is essential, we need to look at that based off of different areas of the country that have different costs of living.”
Despite her campaign position, in 2019, the newly sworn-in congresswoman became an original co-sponsor of fellow Virginia Democrat Bobby Scott’s legislation to raise the minimum wage. The Raise the Wage Act was a Pelosi-backed bill to increase the hourly minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 nationwide, regardless of the local cost of living.
In January, Luria was again an original co-sponsor of the Raise the Wage Act. The bill’s Senate counterpart was introduced by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).
In 2019, Luria opted against supporting fellow Democrat Rep. Terri Sewell’s (D-AL) PHASE-in $15 Wage Act. According to Sewell’s press release, the bill “would allow the entire country to meet and exceed a $15 minimum wage, but at different times depending on how quickly an area can absorb the wage increase.”
A Congressional Budgeting Office (CBO) report found that the wage hike would “lift some families out of poverty” but “other low-wage workers would become jobless”:
For most low-wage workers, earnings and family income would increase, which would lift some families out of poverty. But other low-wage workers would become jobless, and their family income would fall—in some cases, below the poverty threshold.
The bill would also phase out the lower minimum wage option applied to teenagers during their first 90 days with a new employer, as well as a lower minimum wage for persons with disabilities.