Senate Parliamentarian Rules Out Minimum Wage Boost In Covid Bill

Daniel Fowler
February 26, 2021

Keeping all of that in mind, even President Joe Biden himself is realistic when it comes to a $15 minimum wage increase and its unlikely status in the COVID-19 relief bill.

Manchin-whose support Senate Democrats will need to pass a relief bill with a simple majority-told CNN that if the chamber's parliamentarian rules that the proposed Raise the Wage Act of 2021 qualifies under reconciliation and can therefore be included in the final package, he will try to "amend it to $11".

Some congressional Democrats doubt the provision will be allowed under the guardrails of reconciliation, a budget process that requires each provision to adhere to a strict set of rules, while a handful of moderate members have made it clear privately and in public statements that they can't support legislation that includes it. But I can tell you, Dana, this $15 minimum wage increase would mean 30 million Americans would get a raise. They also warned such a dramatic change would be irresponsible and could put small businesses at the risk of going at a time when many are already struggling.

Speaking to CNN, Jayapal pointed out that the federal minimum wage hasn't been raised since 2009, and that expecting families to subsist on wages that haven't risen in accordance with inflation isn't realistic.

Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz, are the only Democrats who have publicly opposed the idea, but many others have been selectively silent on the issue.

Republicans oppose the $15 minimum wage target as an expense that would hurt businesses and cost jobs.

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Sen. Ron Wyden of OR, chair of the tax-writing Senate Finance Committee, also said in a statement: "I'm looking at a tax penalty for mega-corporations that refuse to pay a living wage". However, once the bill reaches the Senate, the minimum wage language will have to be removed unless the Democrats can come up with an alternative plan.

"A $15 minimum wage must stay in the Covid-19 relief bill", Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), chair of the CPC, tweeted Monday. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said the wage increase is part of what he calls a "liberal wish list".

Biden, a supporter of the $15 increase, was "disappointed" in the outcome but respected the parliamentarian's ruling, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said.

"The last thing you do is increase the cost on businesses, which will according to the CBO, at least shutter 1.4 million jobs".

Democrats could employ a rarely used procedural move to muscle the minimum wage provision into the bill with just 51 votes anyway, but it was unclear if they could muster enough support to do that. But those same rules prohibit provisions with only an "incidental" impact on the federal budget because they are chiefly driven by other policy purposes. However, 29 states have passed measures raising their statewide minimum wage above the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour.

"When we say 43% of the state workers are making less than $15 per hour now, imagine what that does to the state when we raise these people up". "It's fair for people to be making what they're producing".

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