7 Democrat Senators Defeat Bernie Sanders’ $15 Minimum Wage Amendment

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 21: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) talks to reporters at the U.S. Capitol January 21, 2020 in Washington, DC. Today marks day one of the Senate impeachment trial against President Trump. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The Senate is poised to vote down Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) $15 minimum wage amendment to the coronavirus spending package, with seven Democrats and one Independent joining all 50 Republicans in rejecting the change.

After the Senate parliamentarian ruled that the wage increase could not be added to the bill and approved by a simple majority of senators, Sanders forced a vote on the policy change anyway.

Democrat Sens. Joe Manchin (WV), Jon Tester (MT), Jeanne Shaheen (NH), Kyrsten Sinema (AZ), and Maggie Hassan (NH) voted against proceeding, though the tally remains open as senators negotiate other issues. Independent Sen. Angus King (ME), who caucuses with the Democrats, and two close allies of President Joe Biden, Delaware Democrat Sens. Chris Coons and Tom Carper, also voted against the measure.

Sanders was not pleased by the defeat on the Senate floor, vowing to keep pressing the matter.

“If any senator believes this is the last time they will cast a vote on whether or not to give a raise to 32 million Americans, they are sorely mistaken,” said Sanders, who chairs the Budget Committee. “We’re going to keep bringing it up, and we’re going to get it done because it is what the American people demand and need.”

The vote was not expressive of where senators stand on the $15 minimum wage hike. Rather than a straight up-or-down vote on the issue, Sanders’ amendment sought to override the parliamentarian’s ruling that the wage increase (a policy change rather than mere fund allocation) could not be included in the bill and still passed via budget reconciliation, a process which requires only 50 votes and a vice-presidential tiebreaker.

Sanders needed to win 60 votes outright on Friday to get around that procedural hurdle, an unlikely outcome in an evenly-split Senate.

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