Twists and turns abound in Progressives’ push for a minimum wage hike.
Senate parliamentarian ruled that putting a stepped increase in the wage to $15 an hour in Biden’s $1.9 trillion pandemic relief plan didn’t comply with Senate budget rules.
That ruling did not stop progressives. Specifically, AOC Proposed Abolishing Filibuster Rules among other things.
“Really our options right now, at least our immediate options on this specific issue, is to do something about this parliamentary obstacle or abolish the filibuster,” New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said Friday.
Democrats pushing the minimum wage provision say the rest of Biden’s agenda, including infrastructure investments, immigration reform and measures to combat climate change, is at stake. Representative Pramila Jayapal, head of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said this is a moment that’s “not just about minimum wage — it’s all the promises Democrats made.”
“We made a promise to raise the minimum wage,” Jayapal said Friday. “We now have to deliver on that promise to 27 million Americans who are not going to be much convinced when we go back in two years and say, sorry the unelected parliamentarian told us we couldn’t raise the minimum wage.”
Fortunately, however, there is at least one Republican Senator who would not go along with the rule changes for elimination of the filibuster is not likely.
Unfortunately, that will not end the matter. Bernie Sanders answered the Progressive’s call.
Bernie Sanders Answers the Call
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, the progressive independent who is chair of the Budget Committee, proposed an amendment to the virus-relief bill that would take tax deductions away from large corporations that don’t pay workers at least $15 an hour. That would provide incentives to pay workers a higher wage, and the fiscal nature of the policy would be more likely to pass parliamentarian muster. Senate Finance Chair Ron Wyden also backed using the tax code.
A senior Democratic aide said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is considering whether to add an amendment to the stimulus that would penalize large corporations that don’t pay workers at least a $15 hourly wage.
Twist Number Three
Two Democratic senators, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, have said they don’t support raising the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour.
That we knew in advance.
On February 4, I commented Biden’s Push for a $15 Minimum Wage Appears Dead.
It Only Takes One
Given the 50-50 split in the Senate, it only takes one Democrat defection to kill any piece of legislation if no Republicans play ball.
There are three Democrat Senators in the pool of potential defectors.
- Joe Manchin, Wet Virginia
- Kyrsten Sinema, Arizona
- Jon Tester, Montana
It seems we have at least two defectors even if Democrats changed the filibuster rules.
“The fact that we have two people in this entire country that are holding back a complete transformation in working people’s lives, the same people who have held our country together throughout this pandemic, is wrong,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
With time ticking, Democrats Scramble to Add Wage Hike Without Slowing Stimulus.
Curiously, despite the fact that at least two Democrats will not go along a minimum wage hike, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is pondering Bernie’s idea.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is considering whether to add a provision that would penalize large corporations that don’t pay workers at least a $15 hourly wage, said a senior Democratic aide. That’s the level President Joe Biden proposed to phase in as part of his Covid-19 relief program.
The prospect of adding a tax measure presents a major complication. Democrats would need to finish writing the new language, vet it, and unite all 50 senators in their caucus behind it.
Will It Stop With Corporate Taxes?
Asked about the Sanders proposal, House Financial Services Committee Chair Maxine Waters said, “I don’t know about that. I do know that a transaction tax has been talked about in financial services. So I would certainly entertain looking at something like that.”
Hawley to the Rescue?
Here is yet another strange twist.
A Republican, Josh Hawley of Missouri proposed a similar concept Friday. He proposed requiring companies with revenues of $1 billion or more to pay their workers at least $15 an hour. The plan would require that minimum wage to be indexed to a gauge of median wages after 2025.
Some senior Democrats stopped short of endorsing the idea of a tax penalty as part of the pandemic-aid legislation when asked about it on Friday.
House Ways and Means Committee Chair Richard Neal said, “I don’t know what is going to happen in the Senate so I hesitate to comment.” He also emphasized the importance of meeting the deadline for the aid bill of March 14 — when enhanced unemployment benefits approved in December expire.
That’s one Republican but two are needed without losing someone like Democrat Jon Tester of Montana.
Where Is This Headed?
Perhaps the solution is what I suggested on February 4.
Might there be a compromise?
That’s possible. The $11 proposal of Manchin could fly or perhaps something a bit higher like the Arizona minimum wage of $12.15.
Possible Republican Defections in Smaller Hike
- Arkansas Min Wage $11.00
- Maine Min Wage: $12.15
- West Virginia Min Wage: $8.75
- Arizona Min Wage: $12.15
My guess is either $11.00 or $12.15 will fly especially if small businesses are exempt.
A wage hike is a bad idea.
Q: How is that possibly going to induce businesses hard hit by Covid to hire?
A: It won’t. It would encourage them to not hire, outsource, or use robots.
While the House passed Biden’s bill including a wage hike yesterday morning, for reasons noted above it is Dead on Arrival in the Senate.