Joe Biden Privately Tells Governors That Minimum Wage Increase Unlikely in Covid Relief Bill: Report

President Joe Biden privately told governors to prepare for a measure to increase the federal minimum wage to be dropped from the next round of coronavirus relief, Politico reports.

Biden privately told a group of governors last week that the minimum wage increase to $15 was unlikely to make it into the final bill.

“I really want this in there but it just doesn't look like we can do it because of reconciliation,” Biden said. “I’m not going to give up. But right now, we have to prepare for this not making it.”

“Doesn’t look like we can do it,” he added.

Biden previously told CBS News that he doesn’t think the minimum wage increase would “survive” the reconciliation process because he believes the Senate parliamentarian would determine it does not comply with budgetary rules.

“President Biden has been consistent in private and public about his commitment to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, which is why he included it in his first major piece of legislation,” said White House spokesperson Mike Gwin. “That commitment will remain unshaken whether or not this can be done through reconciliation.”

Democrats push back:

Congressional Democrats are pushing Biden to get on board with a plan to overrule the parliamentarian, which Democrats could do with 51 votes.

“Given the makeup of the Senate, this is our best opportunity and the right moment in the midst of this pandemic, to give millions of workers a long overdue raise,” Progressive Caucus Chairwoman Pramila Jayapal told reporters.

But centrist Democrats Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema have both ruled out supporting such a vote. Both senators have also said they would not support a minimum wage increase as part of the reconciliation process.

Bernie makes big push;

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders is preparing to fight to include the provision in the bill. Sanders recently requested for the Congressional Budget Office to review whether the minimum wage would have more budget impact than provisions of the 2017 Republican tax cuts that made it through the reconciliation process. The CBO said in a report that it would.

"Raising the minimum wage to $15 would have a much bigger impact on the federal budget than oil drilling in the Arctic and the repeal of individual mandate penalties," said Sanders aide Warren Gunnels. "Both of those provisions were deemed permissible under reconciliation. Let's go."

Sanders said this month that he believes the increase can be included in the reconciliation bill.

"I can tell you as chairman of the (Senate Budget Committee), 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," he told CNN.


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