Democrats in Congress are fighting to raise the minimum wage to $ 15 an hour under a $ 1.9 trillion coronavirus bill they want to pass in weeks.
The fight could intensify as early as Wednesday, at the earliest the parliamentarian of the Senate is expected to decide whether the proposal can be included in the relief legislation under the special budgetary rules foreseen for the package.
If allowed, it would be a great victory for Democrats, but a victory that would only start a broader battle within the party over how much to raise the minimum wage and how to structure it. With low margins in both houses, Democrats cannot afford to alienate progressives or moderates.
“Even if it can be included, then the question is: do Democrats support uniformly?” Sen said. Tim kaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineDemocrats plan crackdown on rising drug costs Overnight healthcare: Biden officials announce funding to track virus variants | Senate Dems unveils a public option proposal | White House: Vaccination of teachers not required for reopening of schools Group of 25 leading nonprofits urges Congress to withdraw war powers MORE (D-Va.), Adding that while he was in favor, “there are other Democrats who have raised concerns.”
Neither side is showing sides in caving, setting up a high-stakes chicken game that could jeopardize additional help for American schools, states, small businesses and families.
The House is set to vote on its $ 1.9 trillion-style package on Friday President BidenJoe BidenTikTok users are spreading a government-made Texas snow conspiracy The problem with a one-time federal minimum wage hike. Throwing money in Central America does not stop illegal migration MOREproposition of. It includes a minimum wage of $ 15 an hour, which would be phased in by 2025.
It’s a level that has strong supporters, including Biden himself, House Progressives, and the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee. Bernie sandersBernie SandersOn The Money: Neera Tanden’s appointment in jeopardy after three non-GOPs | Trump rages over SCOTUS rules on financial records Tanden’s confirmation route looks increasingly untenable US Asia-Pacific caucus urges senators to confirm Tanden MORE (I-Vt.), Who has said he wants to have the pay increase passed in its current form by the Senate as early as next week.
“Fifteen dollars an hour is not a radical idea, a number of states have moved in that direction, over 60% of Americans think this is where we should be going and that’s what I want to do, ”Sanders said when asked about a smaller increase.
Supporters of the $ 15 minimum wage indicate broad support among Congressional Democrats, saying the leaders should bow to any Democratic senators who do not want to follow the party’s will.
In the 50-50 Senate, if all Republicans vote against the wage hike, Democrats cannot afford any defection.
Supporters also point to Florida, which was a stronghold for the former President TrumpDonald TrumpFauci: US political divide over masks led to half a million COVID-19 deaths Bishop of Georgia says GOP’s state election bill is an “ attempt to suppress the black vote ‘Trump closer to legal threat after court ruling on tax returns. Voters across the state passed a voting measure last year to raise the minimum wage to $ 15 an hour.
“The party is ALREADY behind raising the minimum wage to $ 15. The American people too! Even Republicans agree – just watch Florida spend $ 15 with a supermajority voting for Trump. And beyond robust support, it’s just good policy ”, Rep. Pramila JayapalPramila Jayapal Democrats Face Unity Test on Biden’s Bill .9T Progressive Caucus Chairman: I Think Minimum Wage Will Be Included In COVID-19 Aid Package Sunday Shows – COVID-19 Dominates In approaching the dark stage PLUS (D-Wash.), The chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, tweeted Tuesday.
Similar to a budget resolution that drafted the COVID-19 bill, the Senate will need to hold a vote-a-rama before passing the COVID-19 bill.
This allows any senator to offer potential changes to the bill, with many needing only a simple majority to be successful, giving moderates like Sen additional power. Joe manchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinOvernight Health Care: United States Passes Half a Million COVID Deaths | House Panel Advances Biden’s .9T COVID-19 Aid Bill | Johnson & Johnson set to deliver doses to 20 million Americans by end of March On The Money: Neera Tanden’s appointment at risk after three non-GOPs | Trump rages over SCOTUS rules on financial records Tanden’s path to confirmation looks increasingly untenable. (DW.Va.), who opposes the Sanders wage hike.
Manchin said that if the minimum wage hike was allowed to appear in the bill, he wanted to increase the hike from $ 15 an hour to $ 11 an hour.
“If it’s relevant, at a threshold of 51 votes, $ 11 basically works. … We could make $ 11 in two years and be in a better position than they will be in five years with $ 15, ”Manchin said.
Manchin seemed skeptical that there would not be enough support for the $ 11 minimum wage, but declined to say how he would vote on the whole package if rejected.
Manchin isn’t the only Democratic senator worried about raising the minimum wage to $ 15 an hour, but he’s been the loudest. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) Has also spoken out against the idea, and even beyond the amount of the increase, Democrats are privately discussing how to handle salary tips or tax breaks potential for small businesses.
A stand-alone Sanders bill has the support of 37 more Democratic senators – 12 votes less than the simple majority needed to pass the coronavirus bill.
The looming stalemate comes as Senators still wait to hear from Elizabeth MacDonough, the Member of Parliament for the Senate, on whether a minimum wage increase complies with the Byrd Rule, an obscure procedure that determines what can and cannot be passed through reconciliation. Democrats are using the budget process to pass coronavirus aid to bypass the legislative obstruction of 60 votes.
Sanders and his staff made arguments to MacDonough as to why they think he is compliant and should be included.
But others, including Biden, chairman of the House Budget Committee John yarmuthJohn Allen YarmuthOn The Money: Neera Tanden’s appointment at risk after three non-GOPs | Trump rages over SCOTUS rules on financial records House panel advanced Biden’s .9T COVID-19 aid bill This week: House to vote on Biden’s .9 trillion bill on the coronavirus PLUS (D-Ky.) And Democratic senators seemed skeptical.
“I put it on, but I don’t think it’s going to survive,” Biden told CBS News earlier this month, citing Senate rules on reconciliation.
This has left some Democratic senators avoiding the fight to raise the minimum wage to $ 15 an hour until it becomes a topical issue – after the parliamentarian approves it or not.
Majority Leader in the Senate Charles SchumerChuck Schumer Lawmakers Propose Bill to Create Capitol Hill Riot Commission The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by The AIDS Institute – COVID-19 Rescue Bill: A Unity Test for Democrats. Biden Energy Dept Orders Radical Overhaul of Trump’s Energy Rules | Texas power grid was ‘seconds and minutes’ from blackout, officials say (DN.Y.) declined to say whether he would support a minimum wage increase of less than $ 15 an hour.
“Listen, the first step is to go before reconciliation, before the parliamentarian. … We will wait for our judgment before going any further, ”Schumer told reporters.
Sen. Jon testerJonathan (Jon) Tester Senate Democratic campaign arm appeals to new Tester staff leaders to chair defense credits panel Trump’s lawyer accuses Democrats of violent rhetoric READ MORE (D-Mont.), Who is not a co-sponsor of Bill Sanders, questioned the value of weighing in until he at least overcomes this procedural hurdle.
“I don’t know if it’s going to be in there, but once it is, we’ll talk about it,” he said. “But until he gets it, I don’t think there’s any point in wasting energy on it.”
Alexander Bolton contributed.