So now that the Senate Democrats’ plan to include a $15 minimum wage in a COVID-19 relief bill has gone down in flames what’s their Plan B?
Democrats’ $15 minimum wage increase isn’t going to survive the Senate. And they don’t have a Plan B yet.
The Senate parliamentarian’s decision to rule the wage hike out of order ahead of debate on President Joe Biden’s coronavirus relief plan saves Democrats from an internal fight over whether to increase it to $15 an hour. But it also leaves Democrats without a clear path forward on fulfilling a key campaign promise.
“Do we have a plan if she rules that it’s not allowable?” said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) shortly before the ruling. “The answer is no. We have to come back to the discussions in the caucus about how to proceed.”
Democrats tried to squeeze the minimum wage hike into the so-called budget reconciliation process, which allows them to avoid a GOP filibuster and pass their Covid aid bill with 50 Democratic votes. But unless they can find some workaround or alternative solution, Democrats will need 10 Republicans to support it — an unlikely proposition given the yawning chasm between the two parties on the issue.
It goes without saying I hope Democrats in the U.S. Senate have a plan to pass a minimum wage increase into law, but I suspect as long as Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Synema continue to stand in opposition to an increase in the minimum wage the issue is dead on arrival, as it seems pretty clear absolutely no Republicans will support increasing the minimum wage to level that’s even remotely livable.