Democrats Face Make Or Break Moment On Minimum Wage In Next COVID-19 Bill
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Faces her first major test in new Congress to pass a $ 1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill, President Joe Biden's top priority Has. (Photo: Tasos Katopodis / Getty Images)
WASHINGTON - Democrats are fast approaching a pivotal moment to set a national minimum wage of $ 15 an hour and provide more COVID-19 relief. Parliament is expected to push through a bill this week by a narrow margin, and the Senate expects to begin the measure shortly thereafter.
With all the talk of political "unity," the Democrats are facing their first real political test of harmony within their own ranks. It remains unclear whether their leaders - both in the House and Senate - can hold their meetings together to pass a $ 1.9 trillion bill that includes an increase in the minimum wage.
A senior Democratic adviser said it was "definitely possible" that some Republicans would support the bill, but they are hard to rely on. Some Republicans might ultimately vote for the measure - or rather wait and see if the Democrats can pass it themselves before joining the package. And in the House of Representatives, the Democrats cannot afford many defects of their own with just a five-vote majority.
A bill of 1.9 trillion US dollars without an increase in the minimum wage would already be a difficult task for spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) And Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.). A number of politically vulnerable Democrats try to break away from the leaders at times and polish their references as fiscal conservatives. And the overall cost of legislation may still be too high for these lawmakers, despite the fact that Democratic leaders have already pressured higher-income households receiving direct aid to quell a Republican discussion point on the issue.
The possible inclusion of a minimum wage of US $ 15, which could then be removed by the Senate MP due to the procedural rules of this chamber, or removed by the Democratic leaders of the Senate for insufficient support, makes the passage of the law even more difficult. The increase would be gradual, starting at $ 9.50 and reaching $ 15 in four years.
Nonetheless, the House Democrats remain optimistic about the passage prospects. For the most part, no significant public opposition from moderate Democrats has emerged, and polls show the public continues to support another relief bill. The House Democratic leaders are also known for reconciling their members and they have until the end of the week to round off the votes they need.
Service workers at a rally on January 26 in Washington strongly support raising the national minimum wage to $ 15 an hour. (Photo: Jemal Countess / Getty Images)
The Senate, which the Democrats control because Vice President Kamala Harris can sever the 50:50 link between the Democratic and Republican caucus, is making the minimum wage proposal an even more difficult challenge. And that could affect the vote in the House of Representatives.
Sens. Joe Manchin (DW.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) Have already spoken out against including a minimum wage of 15 US dollars in the COVID-19 package, which is extremely difficult. Manchin met with activists and workers in his state last week campaigning for a wage increase, but his opposition remained unchanged. As a result, moderate Hosue Democrats, who have also voiced reservations about wage hikes, may not want to be included in the record to support an hourly hike if it is only stripped by a Senate bill or if a vote fails.
The heads of state and government are waiting for news from the Senate MP as to whether the tax implications of an increase in the minimum wage will be enough to be included in an auxiliary bill that could be passed under budget reconciliation - which means that it will pass by a simple majority rather than with could need 60 votes to overcome a filibuster. Senate Budget Chair Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), A leading proponent of the minimum wage hike, said over the weekend he was "confident" the wage hike will survive Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough's scrutiny.
However, if MacDonough decided that the proposal did not have enough budgetary impact to be included in a reconciliation bill, it could make it much easier to pass the bills in the House and Senate. However, according to the Congressional Budget Office, this would come at the expense of a wage increase for 27 million Americans.
Either way, Democrats are rushing to get a COVID relief bill to Biden's desk by mid-March when federal unemployment benefits for more than 11 million workers expire. The bill would continue federal programs for gig workers and the long-term unemployed through August, increasing a federal surcharge from $ 300 to $ 400 per week.
In public, Congress officials have expressed unusual optimism that elements of the aid package other than the minimum wage regime should be implemented without any problems. Important parts of the bill made it through marathon markups in house committees with unanimous democratic approval.
And already some more cautious voices have said that they are for the package. He was particularly endorsed by Rep. Conor Lamb, a Democrat who holds the swing seat outside of Pittsburgh and was reportedly a candidate for the open seat in the Pennsylvania Senate in 2022. Lamb told HuffPost that efforts in this crisis must be "bigger and stronger" than the relief provided in 2009 to tackle the great recession.
Even so, Pelosi doesn't have much leeway. There are many political points for a vulnerable Democrat who opposes his party and calls for a more financially conservative package. And there is a potential political liability for asking House Democrats to support a package to increase the minimum wage without knowing whether that provision can even be included in the Senate bill.
In addition to the uncertainty about the minimum wage, questions arise about the ultimate fate of another provision: an expansion of the tax credit for children.
The bill would increase the maximum value of the loan from $ 2,000 to $ 3,600 and eliminate the income requirement. Low-income households would therefore benefit even if they were out of work. The bill would also direct the Internal Revenue Service to distribute the money upfront monthly, which means it would essentially create child support for the vast majority of parents in the US.
Child benefit would revolutionize the relationship between the US government and parents. The extra money would reduce child poverty, and monthly payments would be far more helpful than annual tax-time refunds.
However, the bill only extends the loan by one year. Democrats would have to pass another bill to make the changes permanent, which they avoided in the relief bill to keep the total cost of the move below $ 2 trillion.
Republican leaders attack the bill as a giveaway for progressives. Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) Said it didn't matter if the bill was overwhelmingly popular.
"You don't have to be a good pollster in Washington to ask," Hey, would you like the federal government to send you a check for $ 3,500? "Of course the answer is 'yes,'" said Scalise Sunday.
Republicans will work this week to achieve their own unity and prevent a democratic discussion point - the bill being supported by both parties.
To do this, they must keep all of their members in compliance with the law with strong public support. Ultimately, it could ask too much of the few remaining moderate Republicans in Congress to oppose a bill that sends out another round of auxiliary controls that will raise $ 440 billion for state and local governments, and $ 160 billion for deployment of vaccines and $ 130 billion more to reopen schools. Health care money for laid-off workers - along with the expanded child tax credit and expanded unemployment benefit.
But GOP leaders may be able to prevent their members from voting for the bill until the Democrats have their own majority. Even if some Republicans ultimately backed the package and passed it with free votes, the legislature's fate could have been much closer than it seemed.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.
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