Vice President Kamala Harris will not attempt to overrule the Senate parliamentarian if she rules that a federal minimum wage increase cannot be enacted through a process known as budget reconciliation, according to White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain.
“Certainly that’s not something we would do. We’re going to honor the rules of the Senate and work within that system to get this bill passed,” Klain said on MSBNC on Feb. 24.
Democrats are pushing through President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus package using the budget reconciliation method, which requires 50 votes to pass, instead of the 60 votes necessary to break a legislative filibuster.
The package includes a federal minimum wage increase to $15 per hour, which the Congressional Budget Office has estimated will result in the loss of 1.3 million jobs.
It remains unclear if the minimum wage increase is eligible to be passed through budget reconciliation under the Byrd Rule, which requires legislative items to have an impact on the federal budget. The final decision is up to the Senate parliamentarian, Elizabeth MacDonough.
Even if the minimum wage is not stripped from the bill, Democrats may have to amend the bill to get to 50 votes. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) opposes the $15 minimum and has said he will back an amendment to change the amount to $11 per hour. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) has also expressed concern about the wage provision, specifically because it does not appear to be a budget item eligible for reconciliation.
The minimum wage hike is not the only provision of the gargantuan $1.9 trillion package, in which many items have been included that have little to do with addressing the pandemic. The bill features the first expansion of Obamacare in a decade and a refundable child tax credit that would amount to a monthly cash payment to families who do not owe taxes.
According to the Committee for Responsible Federal Budget, nearly half of the stimulus package has been diverted to issues unrelated to the pandemic of the CCP (Chinese Community Party) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus. House Republicans, including Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), have said that only 9 percent of the stimulus bill is targeted at CCP virus relief.