Sat, 02 Dec 2023

VICTORIA, Texas: This week, U.S. District Judge Drew Tipton in Victoria, Texas, ruled that President Joe Biden did not have the power to order government contractors to pay workers a US$15 an hour minimum wage.

He also blocked the plan from being adopted in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi.

Tipton, an appointee of Republican former President Donald Trump, decided that because Biden's 2021 executive order potentially affects millions of workers and has "vast economic and political significance," only Congress had the power to adopt it.

He paused his decision for seven days to allow the Biden administration to file an appeal.

The White House has not responded to a request for comment.

As part of his strategy to prioritize blue-collar workers, the executive order from Biden, who is seeking re-election next year, was one of his pro-labor moves since becoming president.

The federal government spends hundreds of billions of dollars annually on contracts with private businesses, nonprofit entities, and state agencies for various goods and services.

Under federal law, the minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, but many states have set higher levels.

Four states and several cities have set a minimum wage of at least $15.

In 2022, the White House said that some 327,300 employees of federal contractors were paid less than $15 an hour, adding that raising their wages would cost employers $17 billion over 10 years.

A spokesperson for Mississippi's Republican Attorney-General Lynn Fitch said, "We are pleased the court reached the same conclusion we did, that Congress has not given the Biden administration authority to enact this burden on an already faltering economy through executive fiat."

In January, a federal judge in Arizona dismissed a similar challenge to Biden's executive order by five other Republican-led states. The states have appealed.

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