Delaware’s senior senator is also busy on Capitol Hill.
And Delaware Public Media’s Roman Battaglia met up Sen Tom Carper this week get his thoughts on issues such as a federal minimum wage increase and his push for Washington D.C. statehood.
Like his Senate colleague Chris Coons, Sen. Tom Carper recently voted against a provision to raise the minimum wage in the COVID relief package.
But like Coons, Carper believes an increase is coming.
Carper says the federal minimum wage right now is just too low, but voted against a plan of raise it to $15 an hour because he believes the timing is not right.
"To raise it not at the bottom of the worst recession since the Great Depression, but at a time when the economy is coming back," said Carper. "The economy is going to be coming back later this year and we need to come back and revisit this, and I think we'll do that. A minimum wage of $15 by 2025 is probably where we'll end up and should end up."
He adds small businesses and disabled individuals need to be considered in working out a minimum wage increase.
"The concern is that small businesses are struggling, not to go under, they're struggling to come back, and to make sure that folks who are disabled have access to Medicaid and healthcare after we raise the minimum wage, make sure those same folks have access to supportive services that enable them to continue to work," Carper said.
Carper notes that while he was governor the state’s minimum wage rose more than once.
Delaware’s senior senator believes ultimately a minimum wage proposal can be done this year - and with bipartisan support.
Carper also believes it’s time the District of Columbia becomes the nation’s 51st state, and earlier this session, again introduced legislation to do that.
He says his bill is not much different than in years past with the exception that it now has more co-sponsors.
This might be the best possible time for the measure to finally happen since Democrats control Congress and the White House.
Carper calls it a matter of equity.
"There are more people who live in Washington, DC than live in several states. They pay taxes on a per-capita basis. They pay more taxes than probably half of the states in the country," said Carper. "They serve our country, they serve in the military, they risk their lives, and although they do all that they don't have somebody to vote for them in the Senate or in the House of Representatives. It's just not fair."
Carper notes each time he’s introduced the legislation it has come closer and closer to passing, and he’s encouraged that it will eventually be enacted.
Roman Battaglia a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.