Why the White House Is Kissing a $15 Minimum Wage Goodbye

Posted: Feb 07, 2021 2:40 PM
Why the White House Is Kissing a $15 Minimum Wage Goodbye

Source: AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File

One of the key promises Democrats made on the campaign trail was to push for a $15-an-hour federal minimum wage, something that has been dubbed the "Fight for Fifteen." Just a few weeks into his administration, President Joe Biden admits it may be time to put the minimum wage fight on hold – at least for now.

The main reason the White House is backing away from the policy is because it's holding up the American Rescue Plan, Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package. Republicans have made clear that they object to having the language in a bill that is supposed to provide economic relief.

“I put it in but I don’t think its going to survive,” Biden told CBS’ Norah O’Donnell. “My guess is it will not be in [the final stimulus bill].”

The other issue Biden faces: congressional procedures.

From CNBC:

Democrats in Congress have moved to pass the $1.9 trillion stimulus package without Republican support in the Senate using a parliamentary procedure known as reconciliation. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Friday that the lower chamber aims to pass the fiscal relief package within two weeks.

Under the rules of reconciliation, only measures that have an impact on the budget can be passed. Biden indicated in the interview that those rules likely wouldn’t allow the inclusion of a minimum wage provision in the final bill.

The president, however, said he would be willing to work on raising the minimum wage in a separate negotiation. 

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“I’m prepared as the president of the United States on a separate negotiation on minimum wage to work my way up from what it is now,” Biden told CBS. “No one should work 40 hours a week and live below the poverty wage and you’re making less than $15 an hour, you’re living below the poverty wage.”

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (D-VT), however, said he is working to include the minimum wage in the bill because it has budget implications.

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