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Ellison praises Obama decision to raise federal contractor minimum wage

WASHINGTON — Obama will use an executive order to raise the minimum wage for federal contractors, something long pushed by Ellison and others.

WASHINGTON — President Obama won’t just use his Tuesday State of the Union address to push Congress toward a minimum wage hike — he’ll institute one himself.

Obama will announce an executive order raising the minimum wage for federal government contract workers.

Liberals on Capitol Hill, led by Rep. Keith Ellison, have long pushed Obama to do just that, and Ellison released a video Tuesday morning praising the decision.

“I’m incredibly gratified to tell you that I’m happy to see this happen,” Ellison said.

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Ellison backed contract fast-food workers at a handful of such D.C. institutions as the Smithsonian and the Pentagon who had walked off the job to demand increased pay. Liberals cite a study finding 2 million workers on federal contracts making less than $12 an hour.

Ellison had asked for a meeting with Obama to talk about using an executive order raising those wages, but as of December, the White House was noncommittal.

“You know, folks, activism works,” Ellison said Tuesday.  “This is a testimony to how much it means for people who work hard to appeal to their government, to rely on their constitutional right to address grievances … to peacefully assemble and to make change.”

In his State of the Union address Tuesday night, Obama will on call for Congress to raise the federal minimum wage for all workers to $10.10, something most Democrats have long supported but Republicans have resisted.

Devin Henry can be reached at