BIDEN, DEMS PUSH $15 MINIMUM WAGE, GOP SOLONS IRKED
The Democratic push to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour has emerged as an early flashpoint in the fight for a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package, testing President Joe Biden’s ability to bridge Washington’s partisan divides as he pursues his first major legislative victory.
Biden called for a $15 hourly minimum wage during his campaign and has followed through by hitching it to a measure that, among other things, calls for $1,400 stimulus checks and $130 billion to help schools reopen.
Biden argues that anyone who holds a full-time job shouldn’t live in poverty, echoing progressives in the Democratic Party who are fully on board with the effort, Kevin Freking reported for the Associated Press (AP) late.
“With the economic divide, I mean, I want to see a $15 minimum wage. It should actually be $20,” said Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich.
Some Republicans support exploring an increase but are uneasy with $15 an hour.
They warn that such an increase could lead to job losses in an economy that has nearly 10 million fewer jobs than it did before the pandemic began.
Moderates such as Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Rep. Tom Reed of New York are urging Biden to split off the minimum wage hike from COVID-19 talks and deal with it separately.
“The more you throw into this bucket of COVID relief that’s not really related to the crisis, the more you risk the credibility with the American people that you’re really sincere about the crisis,” Reed said. Including the wage increase, Murkowski said, “complicates politically an initiative that we should all be working together to address.”
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