The Latest on the $15 an Hour Minimum Wage Increase

I’ve been torn between writing about CPAC or the covid relief bill. I decided to let the covid bill win.

It’s a shame about the $15 an hour minimum wage. I’ve read a lot of opinions about whether it would still be possible to get the bill through the Senate with the minimum wage intact using some procedural maneuver or another. There’s a good explanation of these by Li Zhou and Emily Stewart at Vox.

In brief, one option is firing the parliamentarian and keeping the $15 minimum wage in the Senate bill This is probably not going to happen, because it would require 51 votes, and at least two Senate Democrats (Manchin and Sinema) are saying they won’t vote for it.

According to Josh Marshall (article behind subscription firewall), another option is for Vice President Harris to overrule the parliamentarian. The Senate could vote to overrule the veep, but that would require a 60-vote majority, Marshall thinks. So let’s say Harris overrules the parliamentarian. What happens next? Josh Marshall:

Remember, Manchin and Sinema still hold all the cards. They don’t support overruling the parliamentarian and they don’t support hiking the minimum wage to $15. Put it in the relief bill and they can just vote against the whole bill. Then the whole thing goes down.

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) says there’s no way Manchin and Sinema are going to vote against the COVID relief bill no matter what they claim now.

Parliamentarians have been overruled many times; it’s not all that controversial, or at least it didn’t use to be. But then the Dems would be playing chicken with Manchin and Sinema, who say they don’t support overruling the parliamentarian, either. There’s a lot at stake.

Bernie Sanders is working on a patch. From Vox:

“In the coming days, I will be working with my colleagues in the Senate to move forward with an amendment to take tax deductions away from large, profitable corporations that don’t pay workers at least $15 an hour and to provide small businesses with the incentives they need to raise wages,” he said. “That amendment must be included in this reconciliation bill.”

That would leave a lot of people out, but it’s better than nothing.

And then there’s compromising with Republicans. There are a few Republicans who are proposing a much smaller minimum wage increase, something like $10. It wold be really sad to have to settle for that.

If the big bill has to be passed without the minimum wage increase so be it, but I’d like to see the Dems offer a stand-alone wage increase bill to the Senate and let all the Republicans vote against it. Then make television ads.

On MSNBC, Lawrence O’Donnell reminds us that the last time the minimum wage was raised, in 2007, the provision was inserted into a defense spending bill that Republicans were determined to pass. Put it in a bill the Republicans want, he says. But I can’t think of what such a bill would be right now. In 2007 George W. Bush kept pushing off-budget “supplement” bills to fund the Iraq War, and there was no way Republicans would have failed to pass one of those. But what do Republicans want now? To outlaw abortions? To make unlicensed open carry the law of the land? To pass a bunch more tax cuts for rich people? To further eviscerate voting rights?

Speaking of voting rights, more than 100 bills that would restrict voting are moving through state legislatures. The future of the nation may depend on passage of H.R. 1, the voting rights act. We can’t risk Republicans taking back the House or Senate in 2022.

But Manchin and Sinema are also opposed to ending the filibuster. I suggest applying extreme pressure to Manchin and Sinema until they change their minds. I mean that literally. Several tons, if need be.