Senate parliamentarian says minimum wage increase cannot be in relief bill, Progressives urge VP Kamala Harris to use her power to keep it in

“This is not a difficult decision. Use your power. Keep $15 in.”

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In President Biden’s American Rescue Plan, he included a minimum wage increase to $15 per hour. The White House website states:

Throughout the pandemic, millions of American workers have put their lives on the line to keep their communities and country functioning, including the 40 percent of frontline workers who are people of color. As President Biden has said, let’s not just praise them, let’s pay them. Hard working Americans deserve sufficient wages to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads, without having to keep multiple jobs. But millions of working families are struggling to get by. This is why the president is calling on Congress to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour, and end the tipped minimum wage and sub-minimum wage for people with disabilities so that workers across the country can live a middle class life and provide opportunity for their families.

Unfortunately, Senate parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough, decided the minimum wage increase cannot remain on the relief bill which was a promise Biden had made to make a priority as president. The current federal minimum wage is at $7.25 an hour. 

According to CNBC, MacDonough and her staff heard arguments from Democrats and Republicans about whether the proposal met strict standards for deficit effects needed to include it in the process. The decision means the Senate will likely pass a different version of the bill than the House, and representatives will have to approve the plan a second time.

“We are deeply disappointed in this decision. We are not going to give up the fight to raise the minimum wage to $15 to help millions of struggling American workers and their families. The American people deserve it, and we are committed to making it a reality,” says Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

Progressives are urging Vice President Kamala Harris to use her power to keep the Fight for $15 in the relief bill. 

While the parliamentarian’s advice is typically honored on Capitol Hill, progressive lawmakers and advocacy groups emphasized that the unelected official’s opinion is not binding and that Harris, as presiding officer of the Senate, has the constitutional authority to ignore the recommendation, reports Common Dreams

“If Vice President Kamala Harris decides to use her constitutional power to disregard the decision of the parliamentarian and tell the clerk to call the roll for the vote, the only way her decision could be overruled is with 60 votes. Because there is no possibility of 10 Democrats breaking ranks, if the vice president of the United States decides to use the power that is granted to her in the Constitution, every lawmaker in America would then have to publicly vote to either support working people or continue to exploit human beings for profit. This is not a difficult decision. Use your power. Keep $15 in,” says Morris Pearl, chair of advocacy group Patriotic Millionaires. 

Harris has yet to speak publicly about the parliamentarian’s decision, but the pressure from progressives is on. 

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