DEMS SEEK TO SAVE WAGE HIKE PLAN AS HOUSE VOTES ON RELIEF BILL
A $1.9 trillion package aimed at helping the country rebuild from the pandemic seemed headed toward House passage Friday, even as Democrats searched for a way to revive their derailed drive to boost the $15 minimum wage, Alan Fram reported for the Associated Press (AP).
A virtual party-line House vote was expected on the COVID-19 relief measure, which embodies President Joe Biden’s push to flush cash to individuals, businesses, states and cities. The White House issued a statement reinforcing its support for the new president’s paramount initial goal.
“The bill would allow the administration to execute its plan to change the course of the COVID-19 pandemic,” it said.
“And it would provide Americans and their communities an economic bridge through the crisis.” Republicans have lined up against the plan, calling it an overpriced and wasteful attempt to help Democratic allies like labor unions and Democratic-run states.
The Senate’s nonpartisan parliamentarian, Elizabeth MacDonough, said Senate rules require that a federal minimum wage increase would have to be dropped from the COVID-19 bill, leaving the proposal on life support.
The measure would gradually lift that minimum to $15 hourly by 2025, doubling the current $7.25 floor in effect since 2009.
Hoping to revive the effort in some form, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., is considering adding a provision to the Senate version of the COVID relief bill that would penalize large companies that don’t pay workers at least $15 an hour, said a senior Democratic aide who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal conversations.
That was in line with ideas floated Thursday night by Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., a chief sponsor of the $15 plan, and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., to boost taxes on corporations that don’t hit certain minimum wage targets.