Biden ‘disappointed’ in Senate parliamentarian ruling but ‘respects’ decision

The White House said Thursday that President Biden is “disappointed” that the Senate parliamentarian ruled a minimum wage increase could not be included in a coronavirus relief bill but said the president would respect the decision.

“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,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement released Thursday night.

“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,” Psaki continued.

“He urges Congress to move quickly to pass the American Rescue Plan, which includes $1400 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,” she said. 

The statement makes clear that the White House will not look to overrule the decision by Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough earlier Thursday evening to nix a provision to increase minimum wage to $15 per hour included in the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill.

White House chief of staff Ron Klain said on MSNBC on Wednesday that Vice President Harris, as president of the Senate, would not try to overturn the decision if the Senate parliamentarian decided the minimum wage could not be part of the bill.

The decision Wednesday evening represents a significant blow to progressives, who saw the minimum wage increase as a critical part of the coronavirus relief proposal, which will face a House vote on Friday.

Democrats have moved to pass the relief bill using budget reconciliation, which allows them to pass a bill with a simple majority in the Senate. 

The parliamentarian ruled on Thursday that the minimum wage provision did not meet guidelines needed to move forward with the upper chamber’s reconciliation process.

Still, progressives called for Harris to overrule the decision after the Senate parliamentarian’s decision Thursday.

“The Senate parliamentarian issues an advisory opinion. The VP can overrule them—as has been done before,” tweeted Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. “We should do EVERYTHING we can to keep our promise, deliver a $15 minimum wage, and give 27 million workers a raise.” 

“I’m sorry—an unelected parliamentarian does not get to deprive 32 million Americans the raise they deserve,” Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) tweeted. “This is an advisory, not a ruling. VP Harris needs to disregard and rule a $15 minimum wage in order.”  

“We were elected to deliver for the people. It’s time we do our job,” he tweeted.

However, the development may ultimately make it easier for the measure to pass in the 50-50 Senate, where moderate Democrats like Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) have been cool to the idea of an increase to a $15 minimum wage.

Tags $15 minimum wage coronavirus relief Jen Psaki Joe Biden Joe Manchin Pramila Jayapal reconciliation process Ro Khanna Ron Klain Senate parliamentarian
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