Biden fails to overrule the senate on denying $15 minimum wage

Barry Lewandowski, Staff Writer

Almost immediately after his inauguration on Jan. 20, President Joe Biden announced his “American Rescue Plan,” an ambitious $1.9 trillion legislative package designed to combat the COVID-19 health crisis. Among its goals were a $1,400 per person stimulus check to working families, including dependent adults, and raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour. But since announcing the package, President Biden has softened on raising the minimum wage and won’t commit to fighting for its inclusion in the bill.

On Feb. 27, the House of Representatives passed Biden’s rescue plan, with only two Democrats voting against it. To make sure the bill passes, Senate Democrats plan to push the bill through Budget Reconciliation. This means that the bill only needs a simple majority in the Senate to pass, and cannot be filibustered. This gives Senate moderates such as Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) a lot of power, as their vote could swing the process.

But not everything can be passed through Budget Reconciliation. Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough, who helps decide what can and can not be passed through reconciliation, considers the raising of the minimum wage a “major policy change,” ruling that it cannot be included in the bill.

“I was extremely disappointed by the decision of the parliamentarian who ruled that the minimum wage provision was inconsistent with the Byrd Rule and the reconciliation process,” said Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.).

“But even more importantly,” he said, “I regard it as absurd that the parliamentarian, a Senate staffer elected by no one, can prevent a wage increase for 32 million workers.”

Progressives, such as Sen. Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), have argued that the parliamentarian should be overruled, which the senate could do with a 50-50 vote if Vice President Kamala Harris commits to siding with her own party. But neither she nor President Biden, are willing to do so.

“It is an issue that the president remains committed to. He wants the minimum wage to be raised. That’s why he put it in his package,” said White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki.

Psaki also noted that neither President Biden nor Vice President Harris was willing to overrule the Senate Parliamentarian, as they “respect the history” of the Senate chamber. And while a Reuters poll indicates 59% of American adults support raising the minimum wage, the refusal to overrule the parliamentarian or remove the filibuster leaves the $15 minimum wage dead in the water.

While it has been reported that Biden is “disappointed” about the failure to raise the minimum wage, this comes after Biden privately told a group of governors and mayors that he didn’t think the raise was likely.

“I really want this in there but it just doesn’t look like we can do it because of reconciliation,” said the President. “We have to prepare for this not making it.”

Now, with President Biden having refused to push for $50,000 in student loan forgiveness, the continuation of mass deportations and failing to consider overruling the senate parliamentarian for a $15 minimum wage, many are left to wonder how many of his campaign promises Biden intends to keep.