Sanders ‘confident’ increase to minimum wage will stay in aid package

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said Saturday he is “confident” that his proposed increase of the minimum wage to $15 per hour will stay in the coronavirus relief package Democrats are trying to pass via the budget reconciliation process.

The federal minimum wage increase has emerged as a lightning rod in the $1.9 trillion package, with progressives staunchly supporting the measure and centrists saying they back a smaller bump. It also remains unclear if the Senate parliamentarian would approve the minimum wage increase as jibing with the parameters of budget reconciliation. 

“Raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour is not incidental to the federal budget and is permissible under the rules of reconciliation,” Sanders said in a statement. “The CBO [Congressional Budget Office] has found that the $15 minimum wage has a much greater impact on the federal budget than opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling and repealing the individual mandate penalties — two provisions that the parliamentarian advised did not violate the Byrd Rule when Republicans controlled the Senate.”

“I’m confident that the parliamentarian will advise next week that we can raise the minimum wage through the reconciliation process,” he added.

The Byrd Rule requires that a piece of legislation has an effect on the federal budget and that it is not “merely incidental” to that effect in order to qualify to pass through reconciliation.

Sanders has pointed to a report from the CBO that determined increasing the minimum wage to $15 would swell the deficit by $54 billion over a decade.

The report found the wage bump would bring nearly a million people out of poverty but could lead to the elimination of 1.4 million jobs. 

However, even if the minimum wage increase is approved by the parliamentarian, it still faces an uphill legislative battle in reaching a final package. The provision was included in a House bill unveiled Friday, but centrist Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) have come out against it, raising questions of whether a bill with the increase in it could get 50 votes in the upper chamber.

Tags Bernie Sanders coronavirus relief COVID-19 relief Joe Manchin Minimum wage Minimum wage in the United States

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