Why Democrats can't figure out how to raise the minimum wage

(CNN)More than two months ago, House Democrats started the process of passing a bill that would gradually raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour.

Since then? Crickets.
Here's a look at the complex factors involved in making such a move.

    Pelosi promised action in first 100 hours

    It's a far cry from Nancy Pelosi's 2017 pledge that if Democrats took control of the House "in the first 100 hours we will pass a $15 minimum wage."
    Months later, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters Democrats will move to the bill. But they need more time.
    "We'll get the votes for the minimum wage bill, but there are discussions about how we can, what actions, if any, should we take to make sure that it is fair," he said Thursday on Capitol Hill.
    In addition to there being red states and blue states, it turns out there are high-cost states and low-cost states. And a single minimum wage might not be the thing to bind them.
    Despite the rhetoric and promises in 2018 and the importance of economic inequality as a Democratic issue on the 2020 campaign trail, the Democratic Party is split.
    Nearly everyone in the party wants to raise the minimum wage. But Democrats who hail from states and districts where it's not as expensive to live are not as keen on that $15 figure. At least not right now.
    It's not clear at this point when or even if House Speaker Pelosi will move toward the $15 minimum wage bill. (And even if she does, the bill faces a very uncertain future in the Republican-controlled Senate). One alternative to a blanket $15 federal minimum wage, being pushed by moderate Democrats like Rep. Terri Sewell of Alabama, would calculate a minimum wage regionally.
    The advantage, said Sewell in April, is that this proposal "provides all minimum wage workers with a much-needed raise while protecting jobs, giving every community the flexibility to grow their economy and taking into account that the cost of living in Selma, Alabama is very different than New York City."

    A decade of no wage hikes

    It's been 10 years since the federal minimum wage went up. The bill that passed through committee earlier this year would raise the minimum hourly wage from the current $7.25 to $15 over five years. Thereafter, it would enable automatic annual hikes based on increases in the median hourly wage as determined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an important feature of the $15 wage bill -- the Raise the Wage Act -- that would make another 10-year lull unlikely.
    There was no federal minimum wage until 1938, and it's been raised periodically. But Congress hasn't approved a new wage hike since 2007, when President George W. Bush signed the current wage into law. The last hike approved through that law went into effect in 2009.

    $7.25 doesn't go as far as it used to

    The dollar isn't worth what it once was, of course. It would take about $8.60 in 2019 to equal the buying power of $7.25 in 2009, according to one government inflation calculator.
    The $15 value has been repeated by Democrats in Congress and some presidential candidates like a mantra in recent years as they criticize corporations, saying they're undervaluing their employees. It's a key way they contrast themselves with Republicans, who have focused on helping corporations and businesses with a permanent tax cut rather than workers with a guaranteed higher wage.
    But there is some recent research on local minimum wage hikes that challenges the long-held view that a higher minimum wage leads to fewer total low-wage jobs. In today's economy, with an unemployment rate under 4%, fewer jobs might not be a problem anyway.
    Even if Democrats can figure out how to pass a $15 minimum wage, that isn't a number that will wipe out poverty or even lead to a living wage -- enough to cover a worker's expenses -- everywhere in the country.

    White House adviser calls a wage hike 'silly'

    While President Donald Trump was on both sides of this issue during his campaign in 2016 and said certain states need much higher wages, hi