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Former Washington Journalist
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As they regroup following a parliamentary setback in the Senate, congressional Democrats say that they remain committed to passing into law an increase of the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.
Although House Democrats approved such an increase as planned as part of President Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID relief package, their counterparts in the Senate were dealt a blow by the parliamentarian who said that the wage increase couldn’t be included in the Senate version of the package and still be covered under what is called “reconciliation.”
Senate Democrats are using the reconciliation process because it’s protected against an expected Republican filibuster.
“As a matter of practice, I don’t get involved in the rules of the United States Senate, but as a matter of values I can just say we will not rest until we pass the $15 minimum wage. We have been engaged in the fight for $15 for a long time,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “This is legislation that affects a majority of women. So over 60 percent of the people making minimum wage are women. Many are moms and it is so essential for us to do this. And whether it happens when we send this over there, we are sending it as a symbol of a difference it’ll make in the lives of the American people. But not just a symbol, but as a solid proposal. If it doesn’t prevail because of Senate rules, we will persist, but we will not stop until we very soon pass the $15 minimum wage.”
Former Republican congressman and MSNBC Morning Joe co-host Joe Scarborough said he thinks that Democrats should go through with a separate standalone vote for a $15 wage because Republicans are behind where public opinion stands on the issue.
“Politically, the best move always was, go ahead and put out that bill that has 75 percent approval rating, the COVID relief bill, and get your Republican opponent to vote against that,” he said. “Then put out the $15 minimum wage bill and have that be another standalone vote, another no vote.
“And if you want to know how popular raising the minimum wage is, just look to the state of Florida, which everybody is saying is turning bright red, that Donald Trump won easily. Well, you know what, the voters of Florida passed a constitutional amendment to raise the minimum wage over time to $15 an hour,” Scarborough added. “Costco yesterday announced they were they are raising their minimum wage to $16 an hour. This is something, again, that Republicans are out of step with. So if I have a choice, if I’m a Democrat, to get one bad vote out of a Republican or two bad votes out of a Republican, I’ll get the two bad votes out of the Republican every time. That makes for a pretty good campaign ad down the road.”
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