House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced Thursday that Democrats will still hold a vote on a COVID-19 relief bill that includes a provision to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour, even after the Senate parliamentarian announced that the provision can’t pass under the Senate rules.
“The ruling from the Senate parliamentarian is disappointing, because raising the minimum wage would give 27 million Americans a well-deserved raise and pull nearly one million Americans out of poverty in the middle of a once-in-a-century devastating pandemic and economic crisis,” said Pelosi in a statement Thursday evening.
“House Democrats believe that the minimum wage hike is necessary. Therefore, this provision will remain in the American Rescue Plan on the floor tomorrow. Democrats in the House are determined to pursue every possible path in the Fight For 15,” she added.
Lawmakers are poised to vote on President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan, dubbed the American Rescue Plan, in the Democrat-controlled House on Friday. But Elizabeth MacDonough, the Senate parliamentarian, threw a wrench in the Biden administration’s proposal when she informed members of the Senate on Thursday that the $15 minimum wage hike did not square with the rules of the reconciliation process.
Under the reconciliation process, the Senate can pass filibuster-proof legislation with only 51 votes, but the provisions of the legislation must be related to the budget and cannot have a merely incidental effect on it, among many other complicated rules.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki acknowledged the Senate parliamentarian’s decision in a statement Thursday evening: “President Biden is disappointed in this outcome, as he proposed having the $15 minimum wage as part of the American Rescue Plan. He respects the parliamentarian’s decision and the Senate’s process. He 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. 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.”
Biden previously told Democratic mayors and governors that he didn’t believe the $15 minimum wage hike would be able to pass under reconciliation rules, according to POLITICO.
Should Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) be sent a bill from the House with the $15 minimum wage hike, he will have to figure out whether to scrap the provision, challenge the parliamentarian’s ruling, or attempt to re-write the provision in a way that would align with rules for reconciliation, reports The Washington Post. In a statement, Schumer said he would continue to fight for the policy, but did not elaborate beyond that.