Even though President Biden included it in his $ 1.9 billion economic stimulus package, don’t expect a federal minimum wage of $ 15 anytime soon. The current federal minimum wage is $ 7.25 an hour, so Biden’s proposal would more than double that amount. But even the president believes his minimum wage proposal will end up on the cutting room floor. “I put it on, but I don’t think it will survive,” he told CBS News.
In addition to the Republican opposition, a minimum wage of $ 15 has also been pushed back by more conservative Democrats, including Sen. Joe Manchin (DW.Va.), whose influence has skyrocketed now that the Senate is divided. 50-50. between Republicans and Democrats. Manchin has made it clear that he does not support the proposed minimum wage increase, and his vote will most likely be needed to pass a new economic stimulus bill.
It is also questionable whether an increase in the minimum wage can be included in a reconciliation bill. Reconciliation is a procedural device Democrats seem willing to use to allow a stimulus bill to pass in the Senate with a simple majority vote instead of the usual 60 votes needed to avoid obstruction. However, according to a summary of the House Budget Committee’s reconciliation process, “[o]Only policies that change spending or income can be included “in a reconciliation bill.”
At first glance, an increase in the minimum wage does not appear to meet this standard. But Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, is not giving up. “We have a room full of lawyers working as hard as they can to make the point to the parliamentarian that in fact the increase in the minimum wage will have significant budgetary implications and should in fact be in accordance with the rules of reconciliation,” said Sanders at CNN. However, he faces an uphill battle to secure a minimum wage increase in the reconciliation bill.
But that doesn’t mean we won’t see a push to raise the minimum wage down the road. President Biden has said he will fight for separate legislation to raise the minimum wage after his stimulus package is enacted. The president also took executive action directing the Office of Personnel Management to make recommendations to promote a minimum wage of $ 15 an hour for federal government employees.
Finally, remember that states can have their own minimum wages. They may be greater than the federal amount, but not less. So even though efforts to raise the federal minimum wage may fail, workers in some states could see a wage increase in the near future if their state increases its minimum wage.
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