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Vote to reinstate the minimum wage of $ 15 in the stimulus bill fails

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Efforts to raise the federal minimum wage again failed, as the Senate rejected an attempt to add wording that would raise the minimum wage to the massive COVID relief bill that was making its way to Congress. On Friday, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) Proposed an amendment to the bill that would raise the federal minimum wage to $ 15 an hour by 2025. However, the amendment was rejected by 58 votes to 42 .

To pass President Biden’s $ 1.9 billion stimulus package without Republican backing, Democratic lawmakers are applying rarely used budget reconciliation rules to enact the plan. Under these rules, legislation can be passed in the Senate with a simple majority vote, instead of the 60 votes normally needed to avoid filibuster, but only provisions that “change spending or income” can be passed. included in a reconciliation bill. On February 25, the Senate parliamentarian ruled that the minimum wage provisions in the COVID relief bill did not meet this standard.

Despite the move, the House of Representatives included a minimum wage provision of $ 15 in its version of the reconciliation bill. The House passed this bill on February 27. However, due to the parliamentarian’s decision, the Senate version of the reconciliation bill currently does not contain any language to increase the minimum wage. Senator Sanders’ amendment would have changed that.

While they were disappointed with the Senate parliamentarian’s decision, it came as no surprise to most Democratic lawmakers. Even President Biden predicted that the $ 15 minimum wage provisions would eventually end up in the cutting room. “I put it on, but I don’t think it will survive,” he told CBS News last month.

Senator Sanders’ efforts to reinstate the $ 15 minimum wage provisions were doomed to failure. That’s because there are a handful of moderate Senate Democrats who oppose the planned increase, including Sen. Joe Manchin (DW.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.). Since the Senate is split 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans (with Vice President Kamala Harris having the deciding vote to break the ties), Democrats cannot afford to lose votes unless they do. can garner an equal number of Republican votes, which is doubtful. While some Republican senators support increasing the federal minimum wage, their plans typically call for smaller increases and come with strings attached. For example, Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) Recently released a plan for a minimum wage of $ 10, but employers would be required to use the E-Verify system to prevent the hiring of workers without papers. .

In a way, the parliamentarian’s decision can be a blessing in disguise for Democrats. They can now move forward and pass the reconciliation bill faster without having to go through a struggle between progressive and moderate parties over minimum wage provisions. They have pledged to adopt the stimulus package and send it to the president’s office by March 14 – when improved unemployment benefits run out – and it looks like it will. Since the bill is under Senate review (including changes to stimulus checks), it must be sent back to the House for approval after it is passed by the Senate. The House should, however, adopt the Senate version.

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The current federal minimum wage is $ 7.25 an hour. (States can have their own minimum wage, which can be higher than the federal amount, but not lower.) Under Senator Sanders’ amendment, the federal minimum wage would have climbed to $ 9.50 an hour from a few months after the adoption of the bill. . The rate would then have increased to $ 11 an hour in 2022, $ 12.50 an hour in 2023, $ 14 an hour in 2024 and $ 15 an hour in 2025. After that, it would have been increased each year by the annual percentage increase, if any, in the median hourly wage of all employees.

Employees who work for tips would also have seen a pay rise under the amendment. The current federal minimum wage for tipped employees is $ 2.13 per hour. That would have jumped to $ 4.95 an hour this year. Then, starting in 2022, the peak minimum wage would have increased by $ 2 an hour each year until it was equal to the federal minimum wage for other workers.

The “minimum wage for young people” would also have increased under the amendment. Today, employers can pay a new worker under the age of 20 $ 4.25 an hour for the first 90 days of employment. This rate would be increased to $ 6 an hour in 2021 under the amendment. This hourly rate would then be increased by $ 1.75 each year thereafter until it was the same as the standard minimum wage.

Finally, disabled workers would also have obtained a pay increase if the amendment had been adopted and adopted. Currently, employees with disabilities can be paid below the standard minimum wage at a rate based on their productivity. That would have changed with the amendment. Instead, workers with disabilities should be paid at least $ 5 an hour in 2021, $ 7.50 an hour in 2022, $ 10 an hour in 2023, $ 12.50 an hour in 2024 and $ 15 an hour from 2025. After that, they would have been paid the standard federal minimum wage.

After the Senate parliamentarian’s decision, the White House released a statement saying the president was “disappointed” with the decision, but that he “will work with congressional leaders to determine the best way forward as no one in this country should only work full time and live in poverty. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (DN.Y.) has expressed similar sentiments. “We are not going to give up the fight to raise the minimum wage to 15 dollars to help millions of struggling American workers and their families, “he said in a statement.” The American people deserve it and we are committed to making it a reality. “

So, don’t expect this problem to go away too easily. President Biden is expected to release another economic stimulus package in March. Perhaps an increase in the minimum wage will be included in this proposal. An autonomous minimum wage could also be introduced in the near future. Senator Manchin suggested a minimum wage of $ 11. So maybe a compromise can be negotiated that will get enough support to get through Congress.

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