U.S. President Barack Obama speaks while meeting with members of the Democratic Governors Association in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, Feb. 21, 2014. UPI/Andrew Harrer/Pool | License Photo
WASHINGTON, Feb. 22 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama Saturday urged the public to "tell Congress to say 'yes'" to raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour.
In his weekly radio and Internet address, the president repeated his frequent call for congressional Republicans to vote in favor of raising the minimum wage, something he said has the support of "a majority of Democrats, independents and Republicans across the country."
Reminding listeners and viewers that he called for the higher minimum wage during his State of the Union address, Obama said the economy is growing and businesses have created about 8 1/2 million new jobs in the past four years but "average wages have barely budged."
"So it's good news that, earlier this week, one of America's largest retailers, The Gap, decided to raise wages for its employees beginning this year." the president said. "Their decision will benefit about 65,000 workers in the [United States.] That means more families will be able to raise their kids, finish their studies or keep up on their bills with a little less financial stress and strain.
"In the year since I first asked Congress to raise the minimum wage, six states have passed laws to raise theirs, and more states are working on it as we speak. But only Congress can finish the job and lift Americans' wages across the country."
Obama -- who issued an executive order last week raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour in stages for people who work for federal government contractors -- said a bill currently before Congress "would lift wages for more than 16 million Americans without requiring a single dollar in new taxes or spending. But even though a majority of Democrats, independents and Republicans across the country support raising the minimum wage, Republicans in Congress don't want to give it a vote."
"Hardworking Americans deserve better than 'no,'" the president said. "Let's tell Congress to say 'yes.' Pass that bill. Give America a raise. Because here in America, no one who works hard should have to live in poverty-- and everyone who works hard should have a chance to get ahead."