No imposition will be made on Senate democrats to confront an internal political battle over the increase of the federal minimum wage to $15, following a decision by the primary keeper of Senate rules. The Senate parliamentarian ruled that a plan to increase the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2025 does not fit the complicated rules that govern budget bills in the Senate. This was included in a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill that is expected to be the first major legislative act for President Joe Biden.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said he is disappointed in the decision and pledged to pursue other legislation to increase the minimum wage.
“We are not going to give up the fight to raise the minimum wage to $15 to help millions of struggling American workers and their families,” Schumer said in a statement. “The American people deserve it, and we are committed to making it a reality.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., the top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, praised the ruling, saying it was the appropriate path to protect the rules of the Senate.
Such a decision might be a disappointment for progressives, however, it relieves immediate pressure on the Democratic Party leaders who are trying to rally support for the overall bill, even though some democrats believe $5 is too high.
In a statement, the White House said President Biden, who proposed the $15 minimum wage as part of his American Recue Plan, is “disappointed” but that he “urges Congress to move quickly to pass” the relief. It also said he will work with leaders in Congress to determine the “best path forward.”
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.
As for Senate Republicans, they are opposing this plan, and a stand-alone bill to increase the minimum wage, by Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders has 37 sponsors, implying that it’s a number Democrats would not back the idea.
Sanders said that in the coming days he “will be working with my colleagues in the Senate to move forward with an amendment to take tax deductions away from large, profitable corporations that don’t pay workers at least $15 an hour and to provide small businesses with the incentives they need to raise wages. That amendment must be included in this reconciliation bill,” he continued.
Republicans are not expected to vote for massive spending package, and therefore there will be need of a massive support amongst Democrats to advance Biden’s first major legislative priority.