Democrats crafting a new path for $15 minimum wage in COVID-19 relief after procedural denial

Democrats crafting a new path for $15 minimum wage in COVID-19 relief after procedural denial

The House is set to spend a long day finishing up work on a public lands bill, then working late into the evening into Saturday morning to pass the COVID-19 relief bill—the American Rescue Plan. One key provision of raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour was dealt a blow Thursday night when the Senate parliamentarian advised Senate leaders that it should not be included via budget reconciliation, the procedure Democrats are using to get the bill through the Senate without having to rely on any Republican votes. Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that the House would keep the provision in the bill, a decision reiterated by Jim McGovern, chair of the Rules Committee, which is preparing the bill for consideration on the floor.

The provision couldn’t be included, Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough determined, because it runs afoul of the arcane Byrd Rule that sets parameters for reconciliation bills. Bernie Sanders, chair of the Budget Committee, responded to the ruling saying: “I strongly disagree with tonight’s decision by the Senate parliamentarian … The [Congressional Budget Office] made it absolutely clear that raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour had a substantial budgetary impact and should be allowed under reconciliation. It is hard for me to understand how drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge was considered to be consistent with the Byrd Rule, while increasing the minimum wage is not.” That provision for Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) drilling was included in the Republicans’ 2017 tax cuts bill, which was also passed by reconciliation. So, yes, it is hard to understand.

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Nevertheless, there seems to be no stomach in the White House for challenging that ruling. The White House released a statement Friday morning essentially withdrawing Vice President Kamala Harris from the process. The advice of the parliamentarian can be overruled by a simple majority, which would require Harris’ help. The problem is primary with this year’s ConservaDems in the Senate, Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, who for whatever reason do not think the workers of America—not to mention the workers in their home states of West Virginia and Arizona—deserve a living wage. Rather than have that fight with them by basically forcing them to make the choice of tanking President Biden’s first key initiative or grandstanding, leadership seems to have decided on Plan B, a trick Sen. Ron Wyden from Democrat had up his sleeve.

Widen, the Finance Committee chair, had a proposal at the ready that would raise the minimum wage for workers at large corporations. Wyden’s plan “would impose a 5 percent penalty on a big corporations’ total payroll if any workers earn less than a certain amount. That penalty would increase over time,” Wyden said in a statement. It would also “provide an income tax credit equal to 25 percent of wages … to small businesses that pay their workers higher wages.”

Sanders endorsed this basic idea, “an amendment to take tax deductions away from large, profitable corporations that don’t pay workers at least $15 an hour and to provide small businesses with the incentives they need to raise wages.” Sanders and Wyden will probably get their heads (or their staff) together to work out the language for this effort.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is looking at adding a provision like this to the bill, a senior Democratic aide told The Hill. That comes with a boost from the national retailer Costco, which announced Thursday that it would be raising its minimum wage for all workers to $16 an hour. If Costco can do it, why can’t everyone? The legislation undercuts a persistent argument against the minimum wage coming from conservatives, which is that it would harm small business. With this, small businesses are held harmless and millions of low-wage workers could still see a boost in pay.

Leadership might also be saving their challenge to the parliamentarian for another provision that is in potential jeopardy. Sen. Sherrod Brown told HuffPost that “[i]t’s not clear yet” whether the provision that boosts the child tax credit and pays it out monthly to young families will pass muster with the parliamentarian. This provision is huge and has the potential to cut child poverty in half, lifting nearly 10 million children and their families. A majority of households with children, some 33.4 million families, would get monthly checks totaling $3,600 annually for children under 6, and $3,000 for children up to 18. The provision in the bill is for just this year, but Democrats want to make it permanent. “As soon as we pass the Recovery Act, we will fight to make it permanent and to make sure they can get the checks monthly if they choose,” Brown said.

It’s an extremely popular idea. A poll released Thursday by Data for Progress found 68% of voters support expanding the tax credit. That includes 59% of Republicans. It’s also an idea that even Manchin and Sinema would be hard pressed to oppose. If leadership has to swap out the minimum wage for Wyden’s new tax on large corporations in order to keep their powder dry to save this provision, it’s potentially worth the trade off. But we don’t know yet whether they’ll have to have this fight.

Meanwhile, Republican leadership in the House remains wholly opposed to the bill, with Whip Steve Scalise leaning on members to vote against it. And every day that is a more and more bonkers position. Here’s another poll released Thursday:

Priorities USA’s poll measured support for the COVID-19 relief package among swing voters in eight battleground states. In the survey, 69% of respondents who split their ticket in the 2020 election between Trump and down-ballot Democratic candidates supported the bill.

Meanwhile, 83% of those surveyed who split their ticket last November between Biden and GOP candidates backed the bill.

That’s 69% of Trump voters supporting the bill. Even if Republicans are knee-jerk opposing this because of some fealty to Trump because he’ll be mad at them if they give Biden a win, they’re voting against the express wishes of people who voted for them, including 83% of people who split their tickets to vote for them in 2020. Bonkers.

Pretty bonkers for blue dog Democrats, too, to think that they’re being principled or whatever in trying to constrain this package. The need is far too great, and the support of voters way too strong, to ignore.


From Daily Kos at Read More. This article is republished from DailyKos under an open content license. Read the original article at DailyKos.

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