On Thursday, the Senate parliamentarian ruled against placing the $15 minimum wage increase in President Joe Biden’s stimulus package.
Elizabeth MacDonough, the parliamentarian, is a nonpartisan official that advises lawmakers on rules and procedures. Currently, Congress is pushing the COVID relief bill through a process known as budget reconciliation, which would allow Democrats to pass it with a simple majority, as opposed to needing Republican support.
The reconciliation process comes with stricter rules, such as provisions needing to be directly tied to the budget. MacDonough decided that the minimum wage hike didn’t qualify.
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“After the parliamentarian’s decision today, we have a better understanding of what the Senate version of the American Recovery Plan could look like,” said Sean Kennedy, executive vice president of public affairs for the National Restaurant Association, said in a statement. “We agree that a national discussion of wage issues for working Americans is needed and look forward to working with lawmakers on a solution that will support the recovery of our operators and our workforce.”
The Senate will likely need all 50 Democratic votes to pass the COVID relief bill. The removal of the minimum wage increase greatly improves the chances of that happening since a handful of Democratic senators voiced their disagreement with the wage hike.
The House will vote on the COVID relief bill Friday, with the minimum wage increase inside it. The bill will then go to the Senate, where the minimum wage provision will be stripped. That means the legislation will have to return to the House for final approval.
Despite the minimum wage being removed, the war is not yet over. The wage hike can still be packaged in a standalone bill or be included in another piece of legislation.
"We are deeply disappointed in this decision," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement. "We are not going to give up the fight to raise the minimum wage to $15 to help millions of struggling American workers and their families. The American people deserve it, and we are committed to making it a reality.”