Surrounded at the
"In the wealthiest nation on earth, nobody who works full time should have to live in poverty -- nobody, not here in America," Obama told a crowd gathered at the White House to witness the signing.
"While Congress decides what it's going to do -- and I hope this year, and I'm going to work this year, and urge this year that they actually pass a law -- today I'm going to do what I can to help raise working Americans' wages," he said.
In so doing, Obama put the executive order to its intended use: calling out Congress for inaction.
The executive order, which Obama had announced in the
Like most executive actions, this one has much more limited impact than a new law. If Congress raised the minimum wage, several million workers would get more money. Obama's order will affect at most several thousand – primarily janitors and food-service workers at some federal buildings and military bases. The order affects only new federal contracts, so its impact will be phased in as contracts are renewed.
Still, Obama is rolling out a raft of directives and orders this winter, explaining each time that he is taking baby steps in hopes of inspiring Congress to make leaps.
And while the impact of his executive order may be small, Obama focused Wednesday on those who would be helped. The higher wage, he said would aid "a dishwasher at Randolph Air Force Base in Texas making $7.76 an hour."
There's a fast food worker at Andrews Air Force Base making $8.91 an hour, he said, and a laundry worker at Camp Dodge in Iowa making $9.03 an hour.
"Once I sign this order, starting next year, as their contracts come up, each of them and many of their fellow co-workers are going to get a raise," Obama said, as his crowd cheered.
The executive action has not changed the minds of Republican lawmakers, who still oppose the idea of a higher minimum. As Obama prepared for the afternoon event, an aide to
“If and when we turn to that issue,” McConnell said, “I think you’d anticipate