• February 9, 2023

Opinion: Plan B for a $15 Minimum Wage

As expected, the Senate MP ruled last week that a nationwide minimum wage of $ 15 cannot be passed through a budget vote with just 51 votes. Some progressives, including some in Congress, are unwilling to accept this procedural error. “Replace the MP,” tweeted Rep. Ilhan Omar. “This is unacceptable.”

Rep. Ro Khanna took the same approach: “This is advice, not a decision.” He called on Vice President Kamala Harris as chairman of the Senate to “disregard and rule a minimum wage of $ 15 in order”. However, this would forever mean the end of the long-standing Byrd Rule that governs reconciliation. President Biden, an institutionalist who gave a laudatory speech for Senator Robert Byrd of the same name, does not appear to choose it. “He respects the decision of the MP and the Senate process,” said the White House press secretary.

So the move to Plan B. Senator Bernie Sanders said he would work on a change to “exempt tax deductions from large, profitable companies that don’t pay workers at least $ 15 an hour.” This idea, he emphasized, “must be included in this reconciliation calculation.” Senator Ron Wyden said he wanted “a 5 percent penalty on the total wage bill of a large company when workers earn less than a certain amount”.

But in order to sneak through the reconciliation, such a provision would have to work with the parliamentarian. One comparison is ObamaCare’s mandate to get health insurance or pay a fine. When the GOP urged it to be killed in 2015, “the Senate MP ruled that the provisions of the law removing the mandates of individuals and employers were irrelevant,” the Congressional Research Service later said. Therefore, the mandate remains in law, although Republicans later lowered their fine to $ 0.

Even if the MP wavered, passing a Plan B would require votes from Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin of West Virginia. Mr. Manchin thinks $ 15 an hour is too high. “Eleven dollars is the right place,” he said recently.

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