No. 2 Senate Democrat shoots down overruling parliamentarian on minimum wage

No. 2 Senate Democrat shoots down overruling parliamentarian on minimum wage
© Greg Nash

Sen. Dick DurbinDick DurbinSenate parliamentarian nixes Democrats' immigration plan Manchin keeps Washington guessing on what he wants Democrats hope Biden can flip Manchin and Sinema MORE (Ill.), the No. 2 Senate Democrat, is shooting down calls from progressives to overrule the chamber's  parliamentarian and include a minimum wage hike in the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill. 

Asked about talk of teaming up with Vice President Harris to overrule Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough, Durbin said Democrats should instead look for another piece of legislation to use as a vehicle for trying to increase the minimum wage. 

“I don’t think that’s going to work. I hope that we think very seriously about dealing with the minimum wage in a different venue," he said. 

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It's the latest sign that the clean increase of the minimum wage to $15 per hour won't survive the Senate. 

Because MacDonough advised that it doesn't comply with arcane budget rules that determine what can be included under reconciliation — the process Democrats are using to bypass the 60-vote filibuster in the Senate — Durbin noted it would need 60 votes to stay in the bill, support it doesn't have. 

After the ruling, House progressives and outside groups have urged Democrats to put Harris in the chair presiding over the Senate and ignore advice from the parliamentarian. 

But Harris does not have the support of the 50 senators she would need to back her up on such a move, a fact to which the White House alluded Monday.

“The decision for the vice president to vote to overrule or to take a step to overrule is not a simple decision. It would also require 50 votes … and the president and the vice president both respect the history of the Senate. They both formerly served in the Senate, and that’s not an action we intend to take," White House press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiWhite House debates vaccines for air travel France's Macron to speak to Biden about submarine deal Why does Biden's vaccine mandate not apply to welfare recipients and others? MORE told reporters.  

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Top Democrats floated late last week trying to increase the wage by another route: using tax penalties against large corporations that don't pay their workers a certain amount.  

The idea was backed by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenBiden pushes back at Democrats on taxes Want a clean energy future? Look to the tax code Democrats brace for toughest stretch yet with Biden agenda MORE (D-Ore.) and Budget Committee Chairman Bernie SandersBernie SandersManchin suggests pausing talks on .5 trillion package until 2022: report Yarmuth and Clyburn suggest .5T package may be slimmed Sanders calls deadly Afghan drone strike 'unacceptable' MORE (I-Vt.), and has even garnered interest from Sen. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleySenators slow Biden with holds at Pentagon, State Overnight Defense & National Security — Milley becomes lightning rod Joint Chiefs Chairman Milley becomes lightning rod on right MORE (R-Mo.). 

But two sources told The Hill on Sunday night that they were pulling the plug on trying to get the so-called plan B into the coronavirus bill over concerns that it could slow down the overall package. 

Democrats want to get the relief bill signed into law by mid-March and because the Senate will make changes it is going to have to go back to the House for a second vote. 

Even if the parliamentarian had said the minimum wage language complied with budget rules, it was facing likely changes in the Senate because a $15 per hour minimum wage does not have 50 votes. 

Durbin acknowledged that not having the minimum wage provision in the bill makes passing it "less complicated," but reiterated that he thought the decision was "disappointing."