President Biden’s stimulus plan has the topic of conversation in U.S. politics, primarily because of its content. The proposed budget would allocate less than 50% of the money for COVID-19.Within the legislation, the Democratic Party, has attempted to pass its own legislation such as the $15 minimum wage by 2025. Democrats are attempting to sneak in a federal $15 minimum wage into the legislation. If successful, the new minimum wage will only take effect until 2025.
Democrats are using a procedure called “reconciliation” to pass Biden’s stimulus bill with a simple majority, rather than the 60 votes required to invoke cloture for most legislation. Under this procedure, in the event of a tie vote with Republicans, Vice President Kamala Harris would cast the tie-breaking vote.
Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough told lawmakers on Thursday night that increasing the minimum wage to $15 should not be included in the coronavirus assistance because it did not meet the criteria for reconciliation as Democrats are proposing.
Although the Parliamentarian’s decision is not binding, it is extremely rare for the Senate Majority Leader to override it. Her criteria indicates that the Democrats will not be able to include the minimum wage within the reconciliation and for it to be approved they will have to win 60 votes in the Senate, which means that they will have to get the votes of 10 Republican senators to invoke cloture and be able to vote the bill.
President Biden acknowledged that the proposal to raise the minimum wage to $15 would most likely not occur within the stimulus plan, but stated that he would support its passage in a different piece of legislation.
Both parties have undecided lawmakers on minimum wage legislation
Even if the minimum wage could be passed within Biden’s stimulus plan, Democrats would still have to get their party’s 50 votes, as there are voices opposing passage of a new federal minimum, such as Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), who said he would support raising the maximum wage to $11 an hour.
“Even if it can be included, then the question is, are Democrats uniformly supportive?” asked Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), referring to the $15 minimum wage.
Senator Angus King (I-ME) said, “If the minimum-wage provision is in the bill with the elimination of the tip credit, it would make it very hard for me to support it.” Senator King is concerned that with rising labor costs for businesses, they will be forced to cut jobs. According to King, because of the pandemic, “a lot of restaurants are hanging on by a thread.”
Some Republican senators have flirted with raising the minimum wage but not supporting the Democratic plan, such as Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), who said, “I just want to make sure that whatever ends up happening doesn’t somehow disincentivize hiring.”
Senators Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Tom Cotton (R-AR) on Tuesday introduced a bill that would raise the federal minimum wage to $10 over four years. Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) said he would support raising the minimum wage to $15 for large corporations, but not for small businesses.
According to the Wall Street Journal, it is unlikely that any Democratic senator would vote against the entire stimulus package just because the minimum wage increase is also in it.
The states of Alabama, North Carolina and North Dakota, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wyoming still maintain the federal minimum wage set in 2009 of $7.25.