Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) opposes the bump to a $15 minimum wage nationwide included in President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief proposal, Politico reported.
“What’s important is whether or not it’s directly related to short-term COVID relief. And if it’s not, then I am not going to support it in this legislation,” Sinema told Politico in a telephone interview this week. “The minimum wage provision is not appropriate for the reconciliation process. It is not a budget item. And it shouldn’t be in there.”
The provision would raise the federal minimum wage immediately to $12 per hour, and increase it by 50 cents per hour every year until it reaches $15.
Critics of the wage increase argue that small businesses have already been stretched to the breaking point by the coronavirus lockdowns and that being required to increase pay more would result in layoffs and business failures.
With the 50–50 split in the Senate, Sinema’s objection could be enough to keep the bill from passing, although the bill could be passed without including the minimum wage provision.
In an interview with CBS earlier in February, Biden said the minimum wage provision might not make it into the final bill. “I put it in but I don’t think its going to survive,” he told CBS’s Norah O’Donnell, according to CNBC.
However, if the provision doesn’t make it into the final coronavirus package, Biden said he would raise a stand-alone minimum wage bill.
Under current rules, the Senate filibuster requires 60 senators to vote to advance a bill for it to get a final vote on the Senate floor. Unlike most Democrats, Sinema and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) oppose eliminating the filibuster.
“Kyrsten is against eliminating the filibuster, and she is not open to changing her mind about eliminating the filibuster,” Sinema’s spokesperson said in January, as the Daily Caller reported.
Sinema is the first Democrat in Arizona to be elected to the Senate in 30 years, Politico reported. She and Manchin seem to be the only Democrats standing in the way of the Democrats’ radical agenda, which gives her tremendous power in the Senate.
But according to Sinema, she isn’t willing to bend on her decisions to earn popularity.
“It’s not effective to pressure me on anything. Because I am a thoughtful person who takes a lot of time, deliberatively, to make decisions,” Sinema told Politico. “Once I’ve made a decision, I feel very comfortable with it. And it doesn’t matter what other people think.”