The Senate parliamentarian has handed a major defeat to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and the Democratic Party by denying them the ability to stick a hefty minimum wage hike into the upcoming $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill.
Despite the defeat in the upper chamber, Speaker Pelosi has vowed to hold a vote on the measure to increase the federal minimum wage to $15, the Daily Wire notes. Still, the decision by the parliamentarian marks the first major legislative blow to Democrats since the inauguration of President Joe Biden, who campaigned a promise to raise wages nationwide.
“House Democrats believe that the minimum wage hike is necessary. Therefore, this provision will remain in the American Rescue Plan on the floor tomorrow,” Pelosi said Thursday, according to the Daily Wire.
“Democrats in the House are determined to pursue every possible path in the Fight For 15,” she added.
Blocked in the Senate
NPR describes the “unelected, nonpartisan” role of the Senate’s parliamentarian as one that involves interpreting rules, like a “referee.”
According to the outlet, current parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough felt the minimum wage hike “did not meet the strict requirements of reconciliation, a fast-track process that allows the majority party to pass big-ticket legislation with a simple 51-vote majority,” rather than the 60-vote majority that is typically required.
It’s a decision that left Pelosi — and the White House — reeling. According to Breitbart, Biden Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the president was “disappointed,” but “respects the parliamentarian’s decision and the Senate’s process.”
“[Biden] will work with leaders in Congress to determine the best path forward because no one in this country should work full time and live in poverty,” Psaki said.
She went on: “He urges Congress to move quickly to pass the American Rescue Plan, which includes $1,400 rescue checks for most Americans, funding to get this virus under control, aid to get our schools reopened, and desperately needed help for the people who have been hardest hit by this crisis.”
Not worth the trouble
Democrats are now left with two options in the upper chamber: they can either toss the minimum wage provision out of the COVID-19 relief package entirely, or keep it and lose the reconciliation process that made the measure viable in the first place.
Without the reconciliation rules that allow for a simple majority to approve the relief bill, it is likely that the measure will fail, as Republicans have already made their opposition to the $15 minimum wage clear, according to reports.
If Democrats want to make coronavirus relief happen, they need to move past their minimum wage hike. It’s already doing more damage than it is worth.