Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) is demanding that Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough be fired after MacDonough rules that the $15 minimum wage hike could not be included in the Covid relief bill because it violated Senate rules.
“Abolish the filibuster. Replace the parliamentarian,” tweeted Omar.
Trouble in paradise?
Less than two months into the new administration, there’s a divide emerging between the progressive wing of the Democrat party and the Biden Administration.
At issue: minimum wage.
According to Senate rules governing reconciliation, an increase in the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour cannot be part of the Covid-relief stimulus plan because it does not align with Senate rules governing reconciliation. The Senate Parliamentarian is now under fire from Ilhan Omar, AOC and other progressives who now want the government to either ignore the rules entirely, fire MacDonough, or change them.
According to Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), the options now include doing “something about this parliamentarian option or abolishing the filibuster.”
President Biden campaigned on the promise of an increase in the minimum wage to $15 from its current $7.25.
The inclusion of the wage hike in the stimulus bill was viewed as a win by progressives, while conservatives worried it would have the effect of shrinking the economy and lessening the number of jobs for workers. Indeed, a recent non-partisan Congressional Budget Office study concluded that although an increase in minimum wage would lessen the poverty rate in American, it would result in 1.4 million fewer jobs.
A Sanders’ Compromise
Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) says he has an alternative plan. He wants to enact a carrot and stick type program for companies to help pressure them towards higher wages.
“I will be working with my colleagues in the Senate to move forward with an amendment to take tax deductions away from large, profitable corporations that don’t pay workers at least $15 an hour, and to provide small businesses with the incentives they need to raise wages. That amendment must be included in this reconciliation bill,” he said in a statement.
Sanders issued the statement after a Senate hearing in which he criticized McDonald’s, Walmart, and other large corporations pointing out that nearly half of the workers making less than $15 an hour rely on public assistance programs that cost taxpayers $170 billion per year.
The American people are “sick and tired” of subsidizing these companies “starvation wages,” he said.
Walmart is already committing to higher wages. The company said recently that beginning March 13th, it would increase pay for 425,000 workers to between $13-$19 per hour, depending on store location. Wages currently start between $9-$11 per hour.