The Senate parliamentarian ruled on Thursday night that a $15 minimum wage could not be included in the Democrats’ coronavirus relief bill, if the legislation is passed under fast-track budget procedures.
Senate Democrats are attempting to pass the $1.9 trillion relief bill via budget reconciliation rules, which would allow the law to pass with a simple majority instead of the 60 votes needed to overrule a filibuster. The ruling by Senate parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough will likely end Democrats’ hopes for raising the federal minimum wage in the relief bill itself.
President Biden “is disappointed in this outcome, as he proposed having the $15 minimum wage as part of the American Rescue Plan,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Thursday. “He respects the parliamentarian’s decision and the Senate’s process.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) said that the House would still include a $15 minimum wage when it convenes to vote on coronavirus relief later on Friday. Meanwhile, progressive lawmakers who have made raising the minimum wage a priority voiced disappointment in the parliamentarian’s ruling.
“The progressive base understands that Vice President Harris can disregard the parliamentarian,” Representative Ro Khanna (R., Calif.) told The Washington Post. “There is no way any senator would sink the final bill, despite what they may say now. This simply comes down to whether the VP will choose to include the $15 or not.”
Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, both centrist Democrats, oppose passing a $15 minimum wage via budget reconciliation.
The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that a federal $15 minimum wage could raise workers’ income while eliminating 1.4 million jobs and increasing the budget deficit by $54 billion over ten years.