Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) has defended his comments on the minimum wage and small businesses after the GOP seized on the remarks.
Khanna has advocated raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour as lawmakers debate President Joe Biden‘s COVID-19 relief package—which could include the measure.
Speaking on CNN, Khanna said successful businesses should be able to pay this, including smaller operations.
“We don’t want low-wage businesses. I think most successful small businesses can pay a fair wage,” he said.
“I love small businesses, I’m all for it, but I don’t want small businesses that are underpaying employees. It’s fair for people to be making what they are producing, and I think $15 is very reasonable in this country.”
The Republican National Committee’s RNC Research Twitter account picked up on Khanna’s comments, sharing the CNN clip and adding the caption: “Dem Rep: ‘we don’t want’ the small businesses that would be forced under by a federal wage mandate.”
The GOP’s rapid response director Tommy Pigott also shared the clip, adding a similar caption.
Podcaster and commentator Stephen L. Miller retweeted Pigott’s post with the caption: “There’s your ad”—prompting Khanna to respond.
The congressman wrote: “We can pay workers a living wage AND have small businesses thrive, including in rural. Putting more money in people’s pockets means they spend more in local communities. You can be pro worker and pro small business. That’s what most small business owners I meet believe.”
He added: “Why don’t we work on a common agenda to help small business? Tax credits for brick and mortar retail, more access to community banks and capital, revitalizing downtowns…
“If we could find some common issue to work towards, we could do something for our country! The long term challenge is our global competitiveness. I am open to working w/ you on something to truly help small businesses who have faced a retail apocalypse and generate a lot of jobs.”
Newsweek has contacted Khanna and the RNC for comment.
The California lawmaker’s comments come as House progressives continue to push for the wage rise as part of the COVID relief package. However, it has been suggested that the president’s $1.9 trillion plan could be scaled down to garner more support in Congress.
Biden has expressed a willingness to trim the cost of the program if lawmakers offer proposals that will “make the package better and make it cheaper.” However, the president has questioned what should be cut.
Originally published at https://www.newsweek.com/ro-khanna-defends-small-business-comments-minimum-wage-1570911 on .