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$ 15 minimum wage withdrawn from Democratic stimulus package

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT). Liz Lynch / Getty Images

  • The $ 15 minimum wage has been removed from the Democratic bailout, according to a Democratic Senate aide familiar with the decision.

  • This means that the Democratic package will not include a pay increase for hourly workers.

  • Sanders was instrumental in leading the provision throughout the reconciliation process.

  • Visit Insider’s Business section for more stories.

The Senate parliamentarian ruled Thursday night that a $ 15 minimum wage provision could not stay in President Joe Biden’s $ 1.9 trillion stimulus package, according to a Democratic Senate aide familiar with the decision.

MP Elizabeth MacDonough said the effect of the provision on the federal budget was “just incidental,” Aid said. This violates the strict guidelines of the reconciliation process that Democrats use to pass legislation in the Senate with a simple majority of 51 votes – and bypass Republicans.

The move is a blow to progressives and Senator Bernie Sanders, who has championed the $ 15 minimum wage as a pay rise for hourly workers. The federal minimum wage is $ 7.25 an hour and Congress hasn’t raised it for over a decade.

He played a vital role in pushing the increase in the minimum wage through the complex process. Sanders chairs the Senate Budget Committee, which has jurisdiction over reconciliation.

Reconciliation involves strict procedures, one of which is the Byrd rule. He stressed that the element of a bill must be linked to the federal budget. The parliamentarian interprets whether a bill complies with the guidelines.

Sanders released a statement Thursday evening criticizing the parliamentarian’s decision. “It’s hard for me to understand how oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge complied with the Byrd rule, but the increase in the minimum wage was not,” said the Vermont Democrat, referring to part of the GOP tax law of 2017.

He added that he would introduce an amendment to “remove tax deductions from large profitable companies that do not pay workers at least $ 15 an hour and provide small companies with the incentives they need to raise wages” .

However, at least two Democratic senators have opposed a $ 15 minimum wage, and their resistance would have dampened his chances of passing anyway. West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin said on Monday he would push to change the pay hike to $ 11 an hour if included in the final package.

Senate Democrats pledge to approve the bill by March 14, when improved unemployment insurance programs will begin to end for millions of Americans.

The draft House proposal would provide $ 1,400 in stimulus checks and $ 400 in federal unemployment benefits through August. It also includes $ 160 billion for vaccine distribution virus testing and significant aid for state and local governments.

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