Progressives push White House to overturn $15 wage ruling

Nearly two dozen House progressives on Monday called on President BidenJoe BidenUS threatens sweeping export controls against Russian industries Headaches intensify for Democrats in Florida US orders families of embassy staff in Ukraine to leave country MORE and Vice President Harris to overturn the Senate parliamentarian’s ruling that a $15 minimum wage could not be included in Democrats’ sweeping $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package.

“Eighty-one million people cast their ballots to elect you on a platform that called for a $15 minimum wage,” the progressives wrote in a letter to Biden and Harris that was spearheaded by Rep. Ro KhannaRohit (Ro) KhannaSmall ranchers say Biden letting them get squeezed Sanders, 50 Democrats unveil bill to send N95 masks to all Americans Overnight Health Care — Insurance will soon cover COVID-19 tests MORE (D-Calif.), a leader of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. 

“We urge you to keep that promise and call on the Presiding Officer of the Senate to refute the Senate Parliamentarian’s advice ... and maintain the $15 minimum wage provision in the American Rescue Plan.”

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Progressives are furious over Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough’s ruling last week that a provision to hike the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour could not be part of the coronavirus stimulus package under the budget reconciliation process.

That process would allow Democrats to push through their massive COVID-19 relief package with a simple majority rather than the usual 60 votes, but the Senate’s Byrd Rule requires provisions to impact federal spending or revenue. 

MacDonough, essentially the Senate’s chief referee, said the wage hike did not pass that test.

Progressives now want Harris — who as vice president serves as president of the Senate — to overrule the parliamentarian. Some progressives are going even further, saying MacDonough should be fired over her decision, something Republicans did back in 2001 after they didn’t like a ruling of the parliamentarian. 

But Biden and top White House officials have said they respect the ruling and are not entertaining either idea. 

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Over the weekend, the House passed a version of Biden’s $1.9 trillion package that included the $15 wage hike.

But based on MacDonough’s ruling, the Senate this week is poised to strip that provision out and send it back to the House. Senate Democrats also have decided to drop their “Plan B” on the minimum wage, saying a provision authored by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenBiden comments add momentum to spending bill's climate measures  These Senate seats are up for election in 2022 Democrats call on Biden administration to ease entry to US for at-risk Afghans MORE (D-Ore.) to tax big corporations that do not pay their workers a higher wage will not be added to the package as it moves through the upper chamber.

But progressives see attaching the wage hike to the COVID-19 package as the best way to get the popular policy signed into law. And they argue that voters handed Democrats the White House, House and Senate last fall in part because of their promises to raise the minimum wage, which has been stuck at $7.25 per hour for the past 12 years.

“We must act now to prevent tens of millions of hardworking Americans from being underpaid any longer,” the progressives wrote. “The outdated and complex Byrd rule rooted in restricting progress must not be an impediment to improving people’s lives. You have the authority to deliver a raise for millions of Americans.”

In addition to Khanna, the letter was signed by Progressive Caucus Chairwoman Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalDesperate Dems signal support for cutting Biden bill down in size Sanders, 50 Democrats unveil bill to send N95 masks to all Americans Centrist Democrats urge progressives to tamp down rhetoric MORE (D-Wash.); veteran progressives like Reps. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Barbara LeeBarbara Jean LeeSenate candidate Gary Chambers discusses his opposition to criminalizing marijuana Treasury rolls out quarters featuring Maya Angelou, first Black woman on the coin A presidential candidate pledge can right the wrongs of an infamous day MORE (D-Calif.); progressive stars like Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezMan who threatened to kill Ocasio-Cortez, Pelosi pleads guilty to federal charges These Senate seats are up for election in 2022 Missouri House Democrat becomes latest to test positive for COVID-19 MORE (D-N.Y.), Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibOvernight Energy & Environment — Biden announces green buildings initiative Tlaib blasts Biden judicial nominee whose firm sued environmental lawyer House Democrats inquire about possible census undercount in Detroit, other communities MORE (D-Mich.) and Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarSenate needs to confirm Deborah Lipstadt as antisemitism envoy — Now Overnight Defense & National Security — DOD watchdog to review extremism screening Omar calls for closure of Guantánamo Bay prison after 20 years of 'lawlessness and cruelty' MORE (D-Minn.); and first-term Reps. Cori Bush (D-Mo.), Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) and Ritchie Torres (D-N.Y.).