House and Senate Democrats are girding for a fight over the minimum wage in an effort to keep President Joe Biden’s promise to raise the federal minimum to $15 an hour.
“With the economic divide, I mean, I want to see a $15 minimum wage. It should actually be $20,” said squad member Rep. Rashida Tlaib.
The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 and it was last raised in 2009. Team Biden is hoping to shimmy the increase into a broader $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package that could become the new president’s first significant legislative achievement.
Republican moderates in both houses of Congress, however, are balking at the plan, saying it reflects Democrats’ priorities more than a good faith effort at pandemic relief.
New York GOP Rep. Tom Reed, who co-chairs the moderate and bipartisan House Problem Solvers warned the group this week that a minimum wage hike would “contaminate” an otherwise clean COVID-19 relief bill, USA Today reported.
“The more you throw into this bucket of COVID relief that’s not really related to the crisis, the more you risk the credibility with the American people that you’re really sincere about the crisis,” said Reed.
In the Senate, other moderates like Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski and Maine’s Susan Collins have also pumped the breaks, The Associated Press reported.
Democrats margin of control in the house is thin, and in the evenly divided Senate they would need every vote plus Vice President Harris as a tie-breaker to overcome GOP opposition.
The numbers make it all but impossible to override a Republican-led filibuster and Senate Democrats are considering forcing the legislation through a procedural vote known as “reconciliation” (The move was instrumental in passing other big ticket items from different administrations, like the Affordable Care Act for President Obama and a raft of tax cuts for President Trump.)
“As you will recall, my Republican colleagues used reconciliation to give almost $2 trillion in tax breaks to the rich and large corporations in the midst of massive income inequality. They used reconciliation to try to repeal the Affordable Care Act and throw 32 million people off the health care they had. They used reconciliation to allow for drilling in the Arctic wilderness,” said Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, one of the loudest Democratic voices leading the minimum wage charge.”
“You know what? I think we can use reconciliation to protect the needs of working families.”
A Congressional Budget Office study from 2019 said a minimum wage hike would be a mixed bag, raising wages for 17 million Americans, but also resulting 1.3 million jobs lost.
With Post Wires