As the fight to include a $15 federal hourly minimum wage in the coronavirus relief bill hits speed bumps including an objection from the Senate parliamentarian and White House reluctance to go against her advice, over 150,000 voters by Friday signed a petition supporting the wage hike.
“We call on the Biden administration to disregard the parliamentarian rule and proceed with a [Covid-19] package that includes One Fair Wage of $15,” Saru Jayaraman, president and co-founder of One Fair Wage—which is leading the petition—said in a statement.
“The passage of a $15 federal minimum wage and elimination of the subminimum wages for tipped workers, workers with disabilities, and youth workers would guarantee a livable wage for all workers for the first time in our country’s nearly 250 year history,” Jayaraman continued. “Decency is Democrats using the political power they’ve been handed to finally deliver for the hardworking people of this country who have been repeatedly stepped on and disregarded over the last four years and especially during the pandemic.”
Dozens of progressive organizations also endorsed a letter accompanying the petition calling on President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris to ignore the parliamentarian’s ruling and do “whatever it takes” to deliver on their promise to voters.
“We are women of color, people of color, women, low-wage workers, and organizations that represent and support them,” the letter states. “We are writing to urge you to use the full power of your office to bring essential financial relief to all working people in America, by ensuring that a $15 federal minimum wage is included in the budget reconciliation process, regardless of the opinion of the parliamentarian.”
Some of the groups signing the letter include CASA, Center for Popular Democracy, Girls Who Code, Patriotic Millionaires, Presente.org, and the Urban League.
Progressive lawmakers are also urging Harris to ignore chief Senate parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough and tell the clerk to call the roll for a vote.
“People don’t care about listening to the parliamentarian,” Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) tweeted. “People care about getting the relief they need. Do what it takes to raise the minimum wage to at least $15.”
Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) tweeted, “I’m sorry—an unelected parliamentarian does not get to deprive 32 million Americans the raise they deserve. This is an advisory, not a ruling… Harris needs to disregard and rule a $15 minimum wage… We were elected to deliver for the people. It’s time we do our job.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), while avoiding the robust language of some of her more progressive colleagues, said on Friday: “As a matter of practice, I don’t get involved with the United States Senate. But as a matter of values, I can just say, we will not rest until we pass the $15 minimum wage.”
If Harris were to use her power to keep the $15 minimum wage in the coronavirus relief bill, the two Democratic senators who have come out against the pay hike—Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Krysten Sinema (D-Ariz.)—would be forced to drop their opposition to the popular proposal, or vote to torpedo the entire $1.9 trillion aid package due to its inclusion.