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Senate parliamentarian rejects minimum wage maneuver

Sen. Bernie Sanders, advocate of a $15 minimum wage Associated Press/Photo by Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times

Senate parliamentarian rejects minimum wage maneuver

Senate parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough dealt a likely fatal blow to Democratic hopes for passing a $15 minimum wage this year. On Thursday, MacDonough ruled Senate Democrats may not use the budget reconciliation process to pass the increase in the minimum wage.

Why is that important? Budget reconciliation allows the Senate to bypass a filibuster, and Democrats are planning to use the process to pass their $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package. They had hoped to include the minimum wage hike in that bill. With MacDonough’s ruling, Democrats will instead need at least 10 Republican votes in the Senate to pass a $15 minimum wage bill. Republicans oppose the effort, pointing to a report from the Congressional Budget Office that the minimum wage hike would lead to 1.4 million job losses.

Dig deeper: Read Harvest Prude’s report for The Stew about Democratic efforts to pass a minimum wage increase.


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How can a national minimum wage be equitable when the cost of living varies from place to place?

It doesn't even work at the state level. For instance, the cost of living in Philadelphia is 29% higher than in Wellsboro, PA, so a state minimum wage that would be generous in Wellsboro would not be as helpful in Philadelphia.

The discrepancy becomes even more obvious when you compare areas across the nation. The cost of living in New York City is 50% higher than in Poplar Bluff, MO.

While a national minimum wage may earn some votes, it will help very few people. The question is, do those proposing it care more about people, or about votes?