(UnitedVoice.com) – For years, the federal minimum wage was a target of Democrats on Capitol Hill. However, on Friday, February 5, Democrats in the Senate agreed to strip a $15 minimum wage provision from the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package. Republicans are united in their opposition to pass a bill they say is chock full of liberal special interest pork and liberal wishlist policy goals. To get around the GOP in the Senate, the Democrats are locking them out using a budget process known as “reconciliation.”
A simple majority is all that’s needed to pass a bill under reconciliation. However, Democrats must stay united. Last week, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) said he didn’t have the full support of Senate Democrats. At least one said no to the $15 minimum wage. The legislation passed the upper chamber on partisan support without the $15 minimum wage.
Is the House Trying to Sabotage the Relief Bill?
After the Senate passed their version of the bill, it went back to the House for revisions and input. In the early hours of Wednesday morning, February 10, the House Committee on Education and Labor approved reinstating the $15 minimum wage back into the bill.
If they are trying to kill the proposed legislation in the Senate, this is the way to do it. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) is adamant he will not support raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour. Manchin comes from one of the most conservative states in America. Last week he issued a statement emphasizing that he will not support provisions in the relief bill that don’t specifically address the pandemic crisis.
Other moderate Democrats, such as Arizona Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly, expressed interest in raising the minimum wage but didn’t endorse a $15 per hour increase. Several other Democrats are noncommittal.
House Democrats know this but refuse to recognize the Senate’s lack of support to pass a COVID-19 package with the minimum wage provision. It appears House Democrats are ready to make the case that the moderate and conservative-leaning Democrats like Manchin are the problem. However, Manchin may be looking at a new report by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) that just confirmed his concerns about the legislation’s impact.
CBO Warns Catastrophic Impact of $15 Minimum Wage
According to a new study released by the CBO on Monday, an artificial rise in the minimum wage would lift 900,000 Americans out of poverty. That’s the Democrats’ focus. However, there is much more to the story.
The CBO estimates 1.4 million Americans would lose their jobs permanently by 2025. In addition to the trillions of new debt Congress authorized due to COVID-19, with trillions more coming, increasing the minimum wage would add $54 billion to the national deficit over ten years.
The result… the prices of goods and services will rise dramatically. Everything from utilities to groceries, gasoline, and healthcare will go up. That is likely to negate the rise in wages as inflation erodes the spending power of a dollar.
Which brings us back around to… what are Democrats thinking?
Are they trying to kill the bill?
Don Purdum, Independent Political Analyst
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