CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - In a significant departure from the Democratic party, Rep. Joe Cunningham voted “no” on Thursday afternoon to a bill which would raise the federal minimum wage to $15.
Fellow South Carolina democrat Rep. Jim Clyburn backed the bill to hit the $15 mark by 2025 and voted “yes.” The House voted as a whole to approve the legislation by a vote of 231 to 199. Cunningham was one of just six Democrats who opposed it.
“I will be an independent check and not toe the party line whenever I disagree,” Cunningham told Reuters in March. “I’m not going to let the national party or the national message drive my message at home.”
The move marks the first time the House has voted to raise the minimum wage since 2007. At that point, it was raised to $7.25 in 2009.
“All American workers deserve to earn a livable wage that will provide the basic necessities for themselves and their families,” Clyburn said in a statement. “In my district, this landmark legislation would increase the earnings of a full-time minimum wage worker by $3,900 annually lifting many households out of poverty.”
The legislation is unlikely to pass the Senate, which is controlled by Republicans. South Carolina and the federal minimum wage rate are the same at $7.25. A 40-hour per week worker brings home $290 per week at that rate and $15,080 per year.