Other lawmakers, including some Republicans, have argued that the pandemic’s relief package should be curtailed, while leaving provisions such as the minimum wage clause for another legislative battle later in the year. Most House Republicans voted against the independent minimum wage bill in 2019, citing a Congressional Budget Office report that estimated the provision. It will put an estimated 1.3 million Americans out of work. The Senate Republicans, who controlled the room, did not take it.
“This is an item on the administration’s agenda, so be it,” Senator Lisa Murkowski, Republic of Alaska, told reporters. “Should it be included as part of the Covid relief package? I think it takes the focus off the priority, which is what is urgently needed today. “
She added, “Hey, you get the car keys now. So let’s get some legislation done, but don’t think you need to have them all in one package.”
Senator Lindsay Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, told reporters in January that “we’re not going to set a minimum wage of $ 15” and that Mr. Biden was better off reaching out to Capitol Hill and negotiating a compromise.
Mr Sanders and the Democrats have argued that with unemployment benefits beginning to expire in mid-March, there is not enough time to win over their Republican counterparts, who embarked on similar reconciliation efforts in 2017 to repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act and pass a sweeping tax reform.
But to secure the first increase in the federal minimum wage since 2009, even with reconciliation, Mr. Sanders and the liberal Democrats could lose little, if any, support from the rest of the party group.
Several lawmakers, including Representative John Yarmouth of Kentucky and chair of the House Budget Committee, have expressed doubts that minimum wages can prevail through Reconciliation Process Rules, which impose strict standards to prevent abuse of the process. Under the so-called Byrd Rule, Democrats cannot include any measure that affects the Social Security program, increases the deficit after a certain period of time in a budget decision or does not change revenue or spending.