President Joe Biden signaled Sunday that he would not fight to keep a minimum wage increase in his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill if it is cut by Congress.
“I put it in but I don’t think it’s going to survive,” Biden said to CBS anchor Norah O’Donnell about the increase. “My guess is it will not be in [the stimulus bill].”
Democrats have chosen to pass the bill using budget reconciliation, a procedure which has specific requirements but allows them to bypass the filibuster that would require the support of 10 Republicans.
Only legislation that impacts the budget can be passed through reconciliation, and Biden seems to be admitting that the minimum wage hike won’t pass muster.
Biden suggested that if the parliamentarian rules against the hike, as he expects, he will push for a separate bill to raise the minimum wage at a later date.
On Monday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Biden was “firmly committed” to an increase, adding, “We’ll see what the parliamentarian decides, and then we’ll see what additional options are, but we’re getting a little ahead of where we are at this point in the process.”
Sanders, Schumer still pushing for it
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Biden’s former presidential rival and chairman of the budget committee, said he was still fighting to keep the minimum wage hike in the bill, however.
“We have a room full of lawyers working as hard as we can to make the case to the parliamentarian that in fact raising the minimum wage will have significant budget implications and in fact should be consistent with reconciliation rules,” Sanders said on Sunday after the Biden interview aired.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said he is also working to make sure the wage hike is included in the bill. “To the pundits who said we can’t do both at once, we say you are wrong,” he said on Tuesday. “We can and we are.”
CBO says hike would cause deficit, job loss
Biden’s proposal was to raise the minimum wage to $12 per hour now, with 50 cent per year increases until $15 per hour is reached. After Biden put the increase into his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief proposal, the Congressional Budget Office released an analysis of what such an increase would do to U.S. jobs.
According to the CBO, the proposal would lead to a $54 billion deficit over 10 years, and 1.4 million jobs would be lost.
It doesn’t seem like a good plan to pay some people up to twice as much while other people lose their jobs. This is why the market should set wages, not an arbitrary law that doesn’t take into account the fact that some small business owners can’t afford to pay workers $15 an hour and would have to lay off some of their workers.