The U.S. Senate parliamentarian ruled Thursday evening that President Joe Biden and congressional Democrats cannot procedurally include a minimum wage hike in their $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, a setback for the Democrats and the new president.
The ruling by the parliamentarian is a major setback for Democrats who had hoped to include a hike to a $15 federal minimum wage in the bill.
In response to the parliamentarian ruling, White House press secretary Jen Psaki issued the following statement expressing Biden’s disappointment:
President Biden is disappointed in this outcome, as he proposed having the $15 minimum wage as part of the American Rescue Plan. He respects the parliamentarian’s decision and the Senate’s process. He will work with leaders in Congress to determine the best path forward because no one in this country should work full time and live in poverty. He urges Congress to move quickly to pass the American Rescue Plan, which includes $1400 rescue checks for most Americans, funding to get this virus under control, aid to get our schools reopened and desperately needed help for the people who have been hardest hit by this crisis.The Democrats’ failure is a boon to the economy however. The American worker is expected to benefit from the misfire. A study conducted by the bipartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) in July 2019 indicated that if the wage hike was canceled, more than 1.3 million jobs would be kept. Amid the failure, Biden forwards his $1.9 trillion dollar spending plan meant to tackle the novel coronavirus pandemic’s economic consequences. The president-elect’s proposal, which seeks to allocate more money for vaccine distribution and provides a bailout for cities and states hit hardest by the virus, also includes a trove of progressive priorities.
Included in the list of Biden’s proposals that have wide progressive backing is raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Biden, who endorsed the wage hike when he first jumped into the White House race in April 2019, has argued that the economic crisis created by the coronavirus presents the best opportunities to accomplish the goal.
“There should be a national minimum wage of $15 an hour,” the president-elect said during a televised address from Wilmington, Delaware. “Nobody working 40 hours a week should be living below the poverty line.”
House Democrats are expected to vote on the Biden plan as soon as Friday, and if it passes, the proposal will head to the Senate. It remains to be seen if any Republicans will back the plan. Congressional GOP leaders formally announced opposition to it at a press conference earlier this week, but Biden’s White House has been feverishly messaging, attempting to claim the plan has bipartisan support. Thursday evening the White House blasted out a news story quoting a number of Republican mayors nationwide offering support for the plan.