The Senate’s “vote-a-rama” is underway as the American Rescue Plan, proposed by Democrats, is being debated. Democrats had hoped to include a $15 federal minimum wage in the package, despite the purpose of the legislation being pandemic relief, but the Senate Parliamentarian shot down the idea on the basis of procedure.
The ruling was a setback for Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee and a fierce proponent of increasing the federal minimum wage. Sanders argued after the ruling that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) indicated that a wage raise would have a “substantial budgetary impact” and thus “should be allowed under reconciliation.” President Biden also supported including the wage increase in the legislation, and was "disappointed" in the parliamentarian's ruling.
During the debate over the $1.9 trillion package, the Senate torpedoed Sanders’ last-ditch effort to include a $15 minimum wage in the package, with even a few Democrats voting in opposition. Sanders attributed the defeat to a “dead wrong” ruling by the Senate Parliamentarian, Elizabeth MacDonough, and lashed out at her conclusion. Sanders deemed her an “unelected staffer” who is unqualified to decide “whether 30 million Americans get a pay raise or not."
"I think the parliamentarian was dead wrong," @BernieSanders says of the minimum wage ruling, decrying the "absurd process that we allow an unelected staffer" in the Senate to decide "whether 30 million Americans get a pay raise or not."— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) March 5, 2021
Debate on the package and amendments proposed by Republicans is expected to continue throughout the weekend.