Democrats seek to include a $15 federal, hourly minimum wage to the hefty $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package currently being negotiated by both parties. The majority party hopes to pass an increase to the minimum wage via budget reconciliation, in order to move forward without needing Republicans to support the measure. Such a move would sidestep the 60-vote threshold needed for a standalone bill, and treat the minimum wage as a budget item.
Democrats hold the slightest possible majority in the Senate, with Vice President Kamala Harris acting as a tie-breaking vote when necessary. One key Democratic swing vote threw a wrench in Democrats’ hopes of passing a $15 minimum wage by reconciliation in the upcoming COVID aid package; Arizona Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema opposes the proposed avenue to increase the federal minimum wage, per Politico.
“What’s important is whether or not it’s directly related to short-term Covid relief. And if it’s not, then I am not going to support it in this legislation,” Sinema told Politico. “The minimum wage provision is not appropriate for the reconciliation process. It is not a budget item. And it shouldn’t be in there.”
The Arizona Democratic lawmaker also reaffirmed her support for the 60 vote threshold, in another blow to the far-left.
If you want to know what drives Sinema, understand she's NEVER served in the majority before during her career— Burgess Everett (@burgessev) February 12, 2021
“There is no instance in which I would overrule a parliamentarian’s decision, ... I want to restore the 60-vote threshold for all elements of the Senate's work.”
Sinema often crosses the aisle and votes with Republicans. Without her support, a provision to increase the federal minimum wage is unlikely to be approved.