The $ 15 minimum wage is practically dead – for now.
Senate MP Elizabeth MacDonough told Senators Thursday that the policy is not having enough federal budget impact to be included as part of the $ 1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief bill. This decision – although one that Democrats could ignore – means there is unlikely to be any further minimum wage action in the near future.
Democrats expressed disappointment with the decision.
SCHUMER: “We are deeply disappointed with this decision. We will not give up the fight to raise the minimum wage to $ 15 to help millions of struggling American workers and their families. The American people deserve it and we are committed to making it a reality. “
– Erik Wasson (@elwasson), February 26, 2021
As Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), a longtime advocate of the $ 15 minimum wage, said, opposition from Republicans to wage increases makes it unlikely that lawmakers can enforce the proposal through regular ordinance – which requires 60 votes would. A budget vote – the process the Democrats use to approve the Covid-19 relief laws – would only require 51.
“So that we understand each other. We’ll never get 10 Republicans to raise the minimum wage,” Sanders said earlier. “The only way to raise the minimum wage to $ 15 an hour now is to get it through with 51 votes Adopt budget vote. “
The MP’s decision narrows the path for minimum wage changes in this Congress: even though Republicans have submitted their own minimum wage bill of $ 10, the likelihood of compromise is extremely slim.
Democrats could still ignore the MP
While the MP has made her decision, the Democrats have another option: they could ignore her decision and still maintain the minimum wage in their legislation. This is a path that many progressives have called for the Democrats – although moderates like Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) have opposed it.
It’s not a common practice – and it’s seen as fairly partisan – but it would mean that Democrats will be able to enforce the minimum wage now rather than relying on a compromise that may be a long time coming.
To do that, the Democrats would simply keep the minimum wage in the auxiliary bill, a move that would likely spark a Republican challenge if the legislature took the floor. At that point, the chairman could override this challenge, and if 60 members did not appeal this decision, that decision would stand.
Given the signals from the White House – and ongoing opposition from moderate Democrats – party leaders are not expected to adopt this approach, although they will continue to face pressure from progressives to do so.
The minimum wage was lowered again
The parliamentarian’s decision marks the most recent case of a further increase in the minimum wage.
Currently, the federal minimum wage has been at $ 7.25 for over a decade, despite an overwhelming majority of voters in favor of change. This week, a new poll by Vox and Data for Progress found that 61 percent of likely voters would be in favor of a gradual increase in the minimum wage. In several Republican states too, voters have supported election measures that would raise the minimum wage over time.
The wage increase bill, which the Democrats kept in the bailout package, would raise the minimum wage from $ 7.25 to $ 15 over five years, then add additional updates to the median wage increase. It had the potential to lift 900,000 people out of poverty and increase the pay of 27 million people, according to a report by the Congressional Budget Office.
Previously, legislation had been blocked on a massive scale by Senate Republicans who had raised concerns about potential job losses and the burdens these policies could place on small business owners. (The Congressional Budget Office also estimates the measure could cost 1.4 million jobs, though many economists believe that figure is an exaggeration.)
In order to bypass the GOP opposition, the Democrats had fought to include politics in the budget vote – a move that this time was blocked by procedural restrictions.
Correction, February 25th: A version of this article has been falsely published which falsely stated that the parliamentarian decided that the minimum wage increase was allowed under the budgetary vote.