Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden Signals “Plan B” to Raise Minimum Wage to $15 an Hour

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) has signaled he and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) are pursuing a workaround to raise the federal minimum wage to $15. Wyden’s announcement comes after the Senate parliamentarian ruled that a proposal from House Democrats to raise the minimum wage did not meet special budgetary rules.

Under Wyden’s proposal, large corporations would face a tax penalty of five percent if any of their workers earn less than a certain amount. The penalty would increase over time. The language would place large corporations in a position where raising wages would be financially prudent even if they’re not mandated by law to do so. The plan would also include ways to prevent companies from outsourcing jobs in an effort to avoid raising wages.

“As chair of the Finance Committee, I’ve been working on a ‘plan B’ that would make big companies pay for mistreating their workers. My plan would impose a 5 percent penalty on a big corporations’ total payroll if any workers earn less than a certain amount. That penalty would increase over time,” Wyden said in a statement. He added that “if a profitable mega corporation like Walmart fires a store’s security guard and replaces him with a contractor who makes far less, my proposal would still require that Walmart pays a penalty.”

Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) has thrown his support behind the idea.

“For decades, the wages of everyday, working Americans have remained stagnate [sic] while monopoly corporations have consolidated industry after industry, securing record profits for CEOs and investment bankers,” Hawley said in a statement. “Mega-corporations can afford to pay their workers $15 an hour, and it’s long past time they do so, but this should not come at the expense of small businesses already struggling to make it.”