Democrats are planning their Plan B to save lots of a rise within the minimal wage

Meanwhile, Democrats are already weighing several options to try to keep the wage increase from being completely imploded and to make it more palatable to moderates in their own party – from whom the leaders of Congress need support in lockstep to get the Covid aid package -19 enforce The Senate votes by a simple majority before unemployment benefits for millions of Americans expire in mid-March.

“Right now there are two problems – one is problems with the Byrd rule, one is problems with the whip,” said John Yarmuth (D-Ky.), Chairman of the House’s budget, referring to the procedural hurdle in the first case the wage increase could be repealed in the Senate. “If Joe Manchin isn’t going to vote in favor of the minimum wage, we’ll probably have to take him out or compromise in a way that he would accept.”

“Raising the minimum wage, especially in the middle of a pandemic when so many small businesses are struggling, would do nothing but harm the economic well-being of low-income families,” said freshman Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla. ). Who said businesses in their district are concerned about the proposal.

“We know that when the government increases the cost of running small businesses, such as through arbitrary increases in minimum wages, lower workers actually get fewer hours and fewer job opportunities,” Donalds said.

Senator Joe Manchin speaks at a confirmation hearing. | Greg Nash-Pool / Getty Images

However, the panel’s progressives stressed that a wage increase is vital in lifting people out of poverty, especially during a health and economic crisis. Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., Who formerly owned a small business, said “In many ways, it’s like slave labor” to pay workers the current federal minimum wage of $ 7.25 an hour.

“We know that people of color have been paid poverty wages for too long,” said Lee, “which deepens the longstanding racist and economic divisions in this country.”

“Paying more than poverty wages is good for the bottom line. People who work shouldn’t have to go into the grocery business, apply for SNAP benefits, apply for Section 8 or other public benefits, “she said.” This is what happens when you pay $ 7.25. It’s just wrong. “

To ensure a minimum wage hike survives, Democrats are discussing the possibility of capping the hike to less than $ 15 an hour to potentially $ 11 or $ 12, Yarmuth said. Such a move could meet the constraints of the Wonky-Byrd rule, which curb the projected cost of the pandemic aid proposal outside of a 10-year budget window, he said.

Budget rules that allow the law to pass the Senate without the threat of filibuster essentially require all pieces of the larger package to have a significant impact on federal spending, revenue, and debt within a decade. If the package increases deficits beyond this window, Senate MP approval can become problematic.

Manchin has previously said that an inflation-adjusted increase in the minimum wage of $ 11 would make more sense for his home state of West Virginia. Sinema’s support for a wage increase would likely be harder to win as she told POLITICO earlier this month that the increase was “not appropriate” as an addition to the Covid-19 bailout bill.

Manchin told reporters on Monday that if the MP approves the $ 15 minimum wage rule, he will try to change the legislation to raise the federal hourly minimum to $ 11 instead.

“$ 11 is the place,” he said. “Throwing $ 15 out there just makes it very difficult in rural America.”

In particular, some Republicans have supported a wage hike, but with additional terms that would divide the Democrats. Senator Mitt Romney, R-Utah, announced last week that he would work with Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) To propose a bill that would raise the minimum wage – although he didn’t provide a number – while safeguarding businesses do not hire illegal immigrants. “

Progressives aren’t ready to drop the $ 15 figure just yet. Senate Budget Chairman Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., And his staff have repeatedly claimed that the Congressional Budget Office has already provided ample evidence that the $ 15 increase is in line with budget rules within the ten-year window. Sanders staff point out that an increase in wages will have a far bigger budget impact than drilling oil in the Arctic and lifting penalties for Obamacare health insurance mandates, both of which were previously allowed under the arcane rules of the Senate.

To make sure the $ 15 raise officially ticks all the correct boxes, progressives have a different idea. They are pushing for the possibility of a small business tax break, which could be combined with an increase in the minimum wage to ease the burdens on businesses needed to increase their wages, according to a senior Senate Democratic advisor.

Separately, the Democrats are considering other options for the Senate Finance Committee, including closing “some loopholes that benefit rich or large corporations,” the Democratic adviser said.

Democrats “could certainly overturn some tax rules,” including one added to last year’s pandemic relief measure, “that will benefit wealthy property owners,” the aide added. “There are several other tax regulations that President Biden has endorsed that would bring in more than enough money to cover both the 10-year window and out-of-year expenses related to the minimum wage.”

Senate CFO Ron Wyden (D-Ore) “is looking into various ways to stay within our allocation and support small businesses,” said spokesman Ashley Schapitl, noting that he had previously said, “He’s doing everything what he can “to keep the minimum wage increase in the broader package.

A House Democrats adviser, who called the problem the “Senate math problem,” said additional revenue could also be generated by shortening the unemployment benefit expiration date, which would extend the house package to August, by one month. House Democrats have already removed a month from Biden’s original unemployment benefit extension, which he wanted to run through September to offset the cost of pension benefits they had included in the Covid-19 auxiliary bill.

Schapitl said she hadn’t heard of options for unemployment insurance and the minimum wage increase, but declined to discuss other details.

Biden has privately signaled to governors that the wage increase is unlikely to come as part of his first Covid-19 relief effort. And while the Democrats could technically overrule the MP on this issue, it is unlikely as Biden strongly opposes the idea, POLITICO reported earlier this month.

However, the Liberals remain confident that the minimum wage hike will survive without compromise – and they are confident that a parliamentary judgment will be in their favor.

“We made a very, very strong case,” said Sanders on Monday. “And hopefully the parliamentarian will decide in our favor. I think she should. ”

Marianne LeVine contributed to this report.

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