Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-VT) suggested he would develop a work-around plan to increase wages across the U.S. after the Senate parliamentarian determined that lawmakers couldn’t do so through the reconciliation process, the same process that would allow Democrats to pass a bill without any Republican support.
“In the coming days, I will be working with my colleagues in the Senate to move forward with 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 announced on Thursday evening. “That amendment must be included in this reconciliation bill.”
The Vermont senator’s statement comes after Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough, the official advisor on the rules for the upper chamber of Congress, informed certain Senators that including the $15 minimum wage hike in the COVID-19 relief proposal would not comport with the reconciliation process. And with the Senate split 50-50, Democrats would need to unite to pass the relief bill through that process, as it can allow certain legislation to pass without the threat of Republican filibuster.
In responding to the parliamentarian’s decision, Sanders called the rules of the Senate “archaic and undemocratic.”
“I strongly disagree with tonight’s decision by the Senate Parliamentarian. The CBO 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,” said Sanders.
“60 percent of the American people want to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. The House of Representatives has voted to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. The President of the United States wants to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. I’m confident that we have a majority in the United States Senate including the Vice President that would vote to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour as part of President Biden’s American Rescue Plan. Yet because of the archaic and undemocratic rules of the Senate we are unable to move forward to end starvation wages in this country and raise the income of 32 million struggling Americans. That fight continues,” he added.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said President Joe Biden acknowledged the parliamentarian’s decision and said the president respected it.
“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,” said Psaki.
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