President Joe Biden and Democrat leaders like Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) were all but guaranteed to have success on including a $15 per hour federal minimum wage hike in the upcoming COVID-19 relief package until late this week, the Senate parliamentarian put the brakes on the provision.
According to The Hill, Pelosi and a number of her colleagues in both chambers of Congress are now scrambling to make it happen by digging deep in the political toolbag, with the Speaker telling reporters in a quick press briefing that she and her colleagues “will not rest” until they figure out how to pass the provision.
— The Hill (@thehill) February 26, 2021
Some Democrats have already proposed a plan B situation, in which they’re discussing levying a tax on large companies who currently pay their employees less than minimum wage.
The White House, however, acknowledged that there could be other ways to accomplish passing a minimum wage hike, but signaled that they’re worried if Congress spends too much time debating the finer points of what a plan B would look like, the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package could be at risk of not sailing smoothly through Congress.
“Meanwhile our focus will be on the urgent priority of getting this package passed and delivering the relief that is so desperately needed — $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,” a White House spokesperson said in response to the continued talks.
Others in Congress, including Republicans, have signaled support for a minimum wage increase but at lower levels, around the $10 range, which would still be a significant increase from the current level of $7.25 per hour, which has been the rate since 2009.
However, Pelosi and many of the progressive lawmakers in her party have promised repeatedly that $15 per hour is the magic number, so it wouldn’t be surprising to find out that somehow, some way, they manage to push it through, regardless, or face harsh backlash from their constituents.