Minimum Wage Is a Women's Issue, Female Senators Insist

By Susan Jones | January 31, 2014 | 5:51 AM EST

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) (AP Photo)

( - A group of female Senators, all Democrats, made the point Thursday that raising the minimum wage is a women's issue.

They not only want to raise the minimum wage to make things "fair" for working women (voters), they also want to raise the earned income tax credit, which redistributes money to the poor through the tax code.

"Now, the reason we are here is to make a very strong point. The minimum wage disproportionately affects women," Sen. Barbara Boxer told a news conference on Capitol Hill. "Two-thirds of minimum wage workers are women."

Boxer said Congress must raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 in three steps from now through 2016: "We must do it for the millions of women who are struggling to make ends meet," she said.

Each of the dozen female senators echoed Boxer's call to raise the minimum wage for the sake of working women.

Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) used her time a the news conference to "ask one important question...And that is, are Republicans really going to block giving 15 million American women a raise?"

Asked if the $10.10 amount was negotiable, Boxer said, "Oh, we'd love to see it a little higher." The senators said they certainly will not accept any attempt to set the wage lower than $10.10.

Another reporter asked about the earned income tax credit, a cash subsidy which Congress approved in 1975 to reduce or eliminate the federal tax paid by low-income workers.

"Yeah, I'd say, first of all, the earned income tax credit has been the best tax policy to lift families out of poverty," Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) said. "[W]e ought to be actually raising the earned income tax credit as well. And certainly in tax reform, many of us will be advocating to do that. But that does not take away from the basics of raising the minimum wage, then we add onto that the support of families for the earned income tax credit, and the child care tax credit, the child credit. I mean, there's a range of policies to support families and nutrition."

In tax year 2013, the maximum Earned Income Tax Credit was $6,044 for a person with three or more qualifying children; but only $487 for someone with no qualifying children.

In his State of the Union speech on Tuesday, President Obama urged Congress to boost the earned income tax credit for single workers: “There are other steps we can take to help families make ends meet, and few are more effective at reducing inequality and helping families pull themselves up through hard work than the Earned Income Tax Credit,” Obama said.

“Right now, it helps about half of all parents at some point. But I agree with Republicans like Senator Rubio that it doesn’t do enough for single workers who don’t have kids. So let’s work together to strengthen the credit, reward work, and help more Americans get ahead.”