The $ 15 minimum wage will not fit into Biden’s $ 1.9 trillion COVID aid package, but lawmakers have other options.

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Democratic lawmakers pushing to raise the federal minimum wage to $ 15 an hour were delighted when President Joe Biden included it in his $ 1.9 trillion stimulus proposal. They had expected the urgency of passing a third COVID-19 aid package to accelerate a decades-long stalemate in raising the minimum wage, but that may have been wishful thinking: Senate MP Elizabeth MacDonough ruled Thursday against passing legislation. minimum wage through the budget reconciliation process, a Senate Democratic aide confirmed Thursday night.

Since Democrats and Republicans are evenly divided in the Senate, Biden is looking to use the budget reconciliation process to pass the aid package. That process requires Vice President Kamala Harris to cast a casting vote if necessary. The rules about what can and cannot be passed through the reconciliation process are written as the game is played. At the most basic level, to use the reconciliation process to pass legislation, there must be a direct impact on the United States budget. Many Democratic and Republican lawmakers were not surprised by MacDonough’s ruling. Senators can overturn their decision with 51 votes, but they are unlikely to do so. That’s because there are many other avenues lawmakers can take to increase the federal minimum wage, which has been $ 7.25 an hour for more than a decade, said Jim Kessler, former aide to Senate Majority Leader Chuck. Schumer, DN.Y. “This is not the only opportunity to pass the minimum wage,” said Kessler, executive vice president of policy for Third Way, a think tank at the center. Democrats are unanimous that they want to raise the minimum wage. The question is, what level and how fast? What would a minimum wage of $ 15 mean if the federal minimum wage increased to $ 15 by 2025, some 17 million workers would be “directly affected” and see their wages rise, according to a report? released earlier this month by the Congressional Budget Office, a nonpartisan federal agency. Some 900,000 Americans would no longer live below poverty levels if a minimum wage of $ 15 an hour were enacted, the CBO estimated. The downside, however, is that 1.4 million workers could become unemployed as a result, according to the CBO’s average estimate. The agency says jobs are lost because higher wages lead to higher costs for companies, which in turn are passed on to customers in the form of higher prices. That leads to consumers buying less of your goods and services, the CBO said.

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“” If the federal minimum wage increases to $ 15 by 2025, some 17 million workers would be ‘directly affected’ and see their wages rise. ” ”- Report of the Congressional Budget Office

Biden challenged the CBO report during a CNN town hall on February 16. “There is as much, if not more, evidence to dictate that it would grow the economy and, in the long and medium term, would benefit both small and large businesses, and would not have a delaying effect.” he said. “But that’s a debatable issue.” Two key moderate Democratic senators, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, oppose raising the federal minimum wage to $ 15 an hour. “Putting in $ 15 right now makes it very difficult in rural America, we have small businesses,” Manchin told the Wall Street Journal this week. On top of that, at least 10 other Democratic senators have not publicly expressed their opinion on raising the minimum to $ 15 an hour.

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“‘Putting in $ 15 right now makes it very difficult in rural America, we have small businesses.’ ”- Senator Joe Manchin, DW.V.

“We are not going to get a minimum wage of $ 15 starting in 2025,” said Harry Holzer, professor of public policy at Georgetown University. If advocates of raising the minimum wage want to see any change, he added, they will have to compromise. Here are some possible options: Raise the minimum wage to $ 11 or $ 12 instead Legislators in predominantly rural states where the cost of living is significantly lower than in states like New York and California worry that their constituents may not be able to pay employees $ 15 an hour. And ultimately, it is not in Schumer’s interest to “corner” Manchin and Sinema into voting for a $ 15 minimum wage by tying it to a blanket stimulus package, because they will vote against it, Holzer said. But there is a “good chance” that the majority leader will get those two senators and “a small number of Republicans” to agree to raise the minimum wage within the range of $ 10 to $ 12 an hour, Holzer said. That would boost the wages of more than 5 million Americans by 2025, according to previous CBO estimates, and leave at least 300,000 Americans unemployed as a result. “My hunch is that it would be easier to pass minimum wage legislation that targets $ 11 to $ 12 an hour,” said Sarah Binder, a political scientist at George Washington University. White House press secretary Jen Psaki declined to comment Wednesday on whether Biden would support an hourly minimum wage below $ 15. A regional approach to raising the minimum wage to $ 15 instead of forcing all states to adhere to the same annual program for minimum wage increases, Kessler. suggests that legislators consider a regional approach. This would allow “different regions of the country to reach the minimum wage of $ 15 at different times,” he said. Another option Kessler previously proposed is to replace the single federal minimum wage “with five regional minimum wages based on regional cost variations.” Raising the Minimum for “Big Businesses” Only Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Missouri, said he favors raising the minimum to $ 15 an hour for “big businesses, not small.” Hawley’s tweet came two days before Costco COST, -2.00% CEO Craig Jelinek announced that the warehouse retailer will raise the minimum wage for its American workers to $ 16 an hour. “This is not altruism,” Jelinek said. “At Costco we know that paying employees good wages and providing affordable benefits makes sense for our business and constitutes a significant competitive advantage for us.” But even as more retail giants join Amazon AMZN, -3.24%, Target TGT, -1.07% to raise their base wages to $ 15 an hour, Democratic lawmakers are unlikely to abandon their promise to raise the minimum wage. federal, Binder said. who is also a congressional expert at the Brookings Institution, a left-wing think tank. “It could create fodder for Republicans and give them a reason not to play games with finding a resolution on pay increases,” he added.