In their push for a new, $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill, House Democrats have long insisted on adding an increase in the federal minimum wage in the legislation, but on Thursday, the Senate parliamentarian opined that procedural rules prevent it from being included in the bill.
Now that Vice President Kamala Harris and the White House have indicated an unwillingness to overrule that determination, far-left members of Congress are voicing their outrage, as the Washington Examiner reports, with some even calling for the parliamentarian’s ouster.
Earlier in the week, Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough advised that a plan to raise the minimum wage to $15 does not meet the complex requirements that apply to budget bills, and which Democrat leaders believed would permit the hike to pass with just 51 votes, as NPR reported.
In response, multiple legislators floated a potential workaround, namely that Vice President Harris, in her role as president of the Senate, could overrule that finding and ensure that the minimum wage increase stayed in the bill.
Among those on the left arguing for Harris to exercise such authority was Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA), who took to Twitter to decry the ability of an “unelected parliamentarian” to “deprive 32 million Americans the raise they deserve.”
In anticipation of the possibility that MacDonough would find as she did, White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain remarked earlier in the week that if the wage increase was disallowed from inclusion in the relief bill, overruling her opinion was “not something we would do,” according to The Hill.
To the disappointment of many in his party, Biden’s press secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday that while the administration was disappointed that the minimum wage provision could not be included in the bill, “[Biden] respects the parliamentarian’s decision and the Senate’s process,” in an indication that Vice President Harris would follow suit.
Angry responses from members of the far-left congressional “Squad” were swift and sure, with both Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN) going public with calls for the MacDonough to be relieved of her duties, as Fox News reported.
With senators such as Bernie Sanders (I-VT) continuing to explore alternative ways of achieving a minimum wage increase in this relief package – such as offering an amendment that would eliminate tax deductions for companies refusing to pay employees at least $15 per hour – it remains to be seen whether the Democrats will have no choice but to take no for an answer.