Negotiations with the Republicans would be a whole other step. And that would likely frustrate progressives and raise alarm bells among labor and advocacy groups that rely on Biden to keep his promise to pay a minimum wage of $ 15 an hour. Progressives argue that a five-year floor of $ 15 is already a compromise and would likely oppose any deal that is significantly lower.
“They don’t want to blow the world up politically and pay a huge political cost, but if politics lines up for a smaller raise, Joe Biden usually wants to make deals,” said a source with knowledge of the administration’s thinking. . The White House is “not doctrinaire for political reasons on what it signs,” added the source.
Cedric Richmond, a senior White House adviser, would only say that the administration is “exploring all options” and that internal deliberations are still in the preliminary stages.
“It’s still early in the game,” said Richmond. “Now is not the time when you put your whole strategy out for the world to see.”
Finding a way to push through a wage hike took on renewed importance this week after the Senate parliamentarian ruled Democrats and the White House could not do so in the Covid relief bill in under review under the reconciliation rules. Democrats plan to try again to push the measure through reconciliation, when Congress considers its second bill in the coming months. But it would face similar hurdles, the least of which is that several Senate Democrats have said they will not support a $ 15 an hour hike.
Putting a bill on the agenda would not involve the parliamentarian. But it would take 60 Senate votes to pass – meaning every Democrat and at least 10 Republicans would have to sign. And it is there, said former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a key ally of Biden, that a deal may need to be struck.
“The minimum wage will be increased, it’s just a matter of how much,” Reid said. “The House can come up with $ 15 an hour, but I think when it comes to the Senate one way or another it will be reduced.”
The White House has repeatedly insisted that Biden remains committed to a minimum wage of $ 15 an hour. And in a meeting with Senate Democrats on Tuesday, the president reiterated his position: “We have to get to $ 15,” he said. “I totally support $ 15.”
But the White House has, in the past, telegraphed that a final negotiation could mean they don’t hit that target. And in Biden’s orbit, there isn’t a strong will to use the issue as a battering ram against the opposition.
“There is a zero percent chance that the White House will push the minimum wage down the throats of Republicans,” a source close to the White House said.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki reiterated Biden’s commitment to a salary of $ 15 an hour on Wednesday. But when asked if the president would negotiate with the Republicans, she said, “He’s happy to hear ideas, but obviously I’m not going to negotiate from here.”
Helpers insist talks with Republicans don’t necessarily mean a $ 15 start. There are other dimensions that could be negotiated, including lengthening the period during which wages are increased, redefining the businesses involved, and including other provisions to help small businesses that may need to increase wages. of their employees.
Republicans have shown some comfort with the pay increases, but not to the same degree as Democrats. The senses. Mitt Romney (R-Utah.) And Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) Proposed a gradual increase in the minimum wage to $ 10 an hour coupled with an electronic verification warrant, requiring proof that employees are legally capable of working in the countryside.
There has so far been no contact between Romney or Cotton and the White House over minimum wage, according to two sources familiar with the matter. A GOP Senate aide said some Republicans were ready to have bottom wage conversations, but the electronic verification warrant was likely a sticking point.
Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, argued that Biden could use the support he has built around the Covid relief program to push lawmakers to support a $ 15 salary floor: He has “Got all that support in their home districts and states.” Nelson expected a $ 15 pay hike to be part of the talks around a job and infrastructure package that the House Blanche should focus in the coming months, and she argued that Biden should pressure Republicans by stepping up support for a pay hike with governors and mayors.
“It’s something Biden understands,” said Nelson, “that you can’t strike people off because when you cancel people, you excuse them and you don’t hold them accountable.”
Caitlin Oprysko, Theodoric Meyer, and Marianne LeVine contributed to this report.