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Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont on Saturday expressed confidence that the proposed minimum wage hike to $15 per hour will remain in the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package that congressional Democrats are aiming to pass through the budget reconciliation process.
President Joe Biden supports the minimum wage hike but has expressed doubt that it would be permissible under reconciliation rules. But, Sanders, the independent chairman of the Senate Budget Committee who caucuses with the Democrats, thinks the measure will pass muster with the Senate parliamentarian.
“Raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour is not ‘incidental’ to the federal budget and is permissible under the rules of reconciliation,” Sanders said in a statement to CNN. “The CBO [Congressional Budget Office] has found that the $15 minimum wage has a much greater impact on the federal budget than opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling and repealing the individual mandate penalties — two provisions that the parliamentarian advised did not violate the Byrd Rule when Republicans controlled the Senate.”
He added: “I’m confident that the parliamentarian will advise next week that we can raise the minimum wage through the reconciliation process.”
Sanders has insisted that reconciliation — which would rely on all 50 Democratic senators supporting the legislation — is the way to make the minimum wage increase happen.
“It’s gonna be in reconciliation if I have anything to say about it — it’s the only way we’re gonna get it passed,” he told Insider’s Joseph Zeballos-Roig earlier this month.
But even if the parliamentarian rules in Sanders’ favor, he’ll still face resistance from moderate Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.
Manchin told The Hill earlier this month that he could support raising the minimum wage to $11 an hour, which he said was “responsible and reasonable.”
“The minimum wage provision is not appropriate for the reconciliation process,” Sinema told Politico last week. “It is not a budget item. And it shouldn’t be in there.”
The federal minimum wage, at $7.25 per hour, has been unchanged since July 2009.