Minimum wage setback revives progressive calls to nix Senate filibuster

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)
Greg Nash

A Senate official’s ruling against Democrats’ $15 minimum wage hike in the next coronavirus bill has revived calls to end the Senate filibuster.

Democrats are trying to pass the legislation through reconciliation, a fast-track process that lets them bypass the 60-vote legislative filibuster. Therefore, every provision included in the bill needs to pass the arcane budget rules. 

Senate parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough ruled on Thursday that boosting the minimum wage in the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill does not comply with budget rules.

The decision was a blow to progressives, who saw the measure as a key provision of the relief bill.

Progressive senators took to Twitter after the ruling Thursday to express their frustration with the decision and to call for the nixing of the filibuster. 

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) tweeted on Thursday “Democrats should not be held hostage by [Sen.] Mitch McConnell [R-Ky.] to help struggling families. It is time to get rid of the filibuster to raise the minimum wage to $15 and pass the other bold policies that Americans voted for us to deliver.”

Warren, a former 2020 Democratic presidential candidate has called for the Senate to do away with the filibuster previously, stating that the next time that Democrats have power the move should be made. 

“So let me be as clear as I can about this. When Democrats next have power, we should be bold: we are done with two sets of rules — one for the Republicans and one for the Democrats,” she said in 2019, according to a report from Politico. 

Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) tweeted “end the filibuster. Raise the minimum wage.”  

But despite calls from lawmakers, Senate Democrats are not likely to be able to successfully nix the filibuster. Democrats would need all 50 members of their caucus to invoke the “nuclear option,” which would end the filibuster with a simple majority.

However, moderate Democrats like Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) have already said they would oppose getting rid of the filibuster, and several other members haven’t expressed an opinion on the move either way. 

Talks of the filibuster were also previously brought up last month, when Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) tried to preserve the filibuster as he and Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) were negotiating a power-sharing deal for the evenly-split chamber.  

McConnell dropped the provision after Manchin and Sinema said they wouldn’t support ending the filibuster, and the Senate ultimately passed the power-sharing measure.

Still, some progressive lawmakers Thursday night pushed for the Senate to end the filibuster to pass a $15 minimum wage.

Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), also knocked the procedure on Twitter, saying “The filibuster was never in the constitution, originated mostly by accident, and has historically been used to block civil rights. No legislatures on earth have a supermajority requirement because that’s stupid and paralyzing. It’s time to trash the Jim Crow filibuster.”  

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) also tweeted “the filibuster is killing Democracy.”

After MacDonough’s ruling, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said that the minimum wage increase will still be included in the bill when the House votes on it, leaving it to the Senate to remove the language. 

Updated 11:00 p.m.

Tags Alex Padilla Brian Schatz Charles Schumer Chris Murphy Coronavirus COVID-19 COVID-19 aid Elizabeth Warren Filibuster Jamaal Bowman Joe Manchin Kyrsten Sinema Minimum wage Mitch McConnell Nancy Pelosi Senate filibuster
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