It has been widely speculated that the new U.S. administration will include an increase of the federal minimum wage to the U.S. $15 per hour among the measures that comprise President Biden’s coronavirus relief package.
If adopted, the plan will come into effect in 2025 and is estimated to lift the wages of around 27 million workers.
Sanders is all in, but…
As Bernie Sanders, who is an Independent Senator from Vermont, stressed, the federal minimum wage raise has the prospects of bringing millions of people out of starvation.
Sanders, who has been a supporter of such an increase for a long time, voiced his optimism that the measure against poverty would be finally approved by the majority of the Senate.
Yet, there are Senators from the Democratic Party whose votes may prevent the realization of Sanders’s dream.
Joe Manchin, a Senator from West Virginia, and Kyrsten Sinema, a Senator from Arizona, announced that they would not support making the federal minimum wage increase part of the coronavirus relief plan.
In an interview with Politico, Sinema said that she would not vote in favor of the measure as it is not directly related to the coronavirus relief that is supposed to be short-term.
The lack of full support by the Democrats makes the problem for the proponents of the wage increase because Democrats have a very slight majority that entirely depends on the tie-breaking vote by Vice President Kamala Harris.
Republicans said NO
Moreover, Republicans have consistently been staunch opponents of the measure.
They raised concerns about the measure damaging businesses who already have to struggle due to the pandemic.
In addition to that, some estimates show that around 1.4 million workers are likely to lose their jobs because their employers would need to raise the federal minimum wage and thus would not be able to keep each worker.
The goal of the Democratic supporters of the federal minimum wage increase is to pass it through reconciliation.
Besides winning a simple majority, this plan entails the measure being approved from the nonpartisan Senate’s Office of the Parliamentarian, currently held by Elizabeth MacDonough.
If this procedure does not yield satisfying results, there are speculations that Democrats will introduce the minimum wage increase as a bill that is independent of the coronavirus relief package.
If such a policy gets enacted, it would present a more than twofold increase from the 7.25 per hour federal minimum wage policy adopted in 2009.
The goals of Sanders and other progressives would be realized after a long period of agitation.