The “Plan B” that some Senate Democrats had proposed for the minimum wage hike is now off the table, a senior Democratic aide told CBS News. The proposal involved a payroll tax penalty for large companies that pay their workers less than a certain amount.
$15 minimum wage hike is doomed to fail
The aide said they’re going to be looking at “all legislative avenues” in the future to get the minimum wage hike approved, and insisted, “we aren’t going to just throw up our hands and walk away.”
“I expect that you’ll be hearing a lot more about it this week, but it’s not going to go away as an issue, certainly,” the aide said.
The fate of the Democrats’ proposed $15-an-hour minimum wage hike has been in question since the Senate parliamentarian ruled last week that it couldn’t be included in the massive $1.9 trillion economic relief package if that package is passed through the budget reconciliation process. Budget reconciliation allows a bill pass with a simple majority, rather than the 60 votes normally required to move legislation through the Senate.
President Biden had previously said in an interview with CBS News in early February that he didn’t think a provision raising the minimum wage would be included in a COVID relief bill “because of the rules of the United States Senate.” The House early Saturday passed the relief bill, including the minimum wage hike.
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After the Senate parliamentarian’s ruling, Democrats immediately moved to a “Plan B” to get the minimum wage hike approved through a tax process. This measure, drafted by aides to Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, would impose a 5% payroll tax penalty on “very large” companies that do not pay workers a certain amount. That amount is still unclear: Wyden favors $15 an hour, but is currently seeking feedback from fellow Democrats on that figure and on exactly which companies would face the penalties.
But a Democratic aide said on Sunday night that plan is dead. Extended unemployment insurance is set to run out on March 14 without the new economic relief package. The aide said they realized they would “have to go back through the parliamentarian,” something that wouldn’t be feasible given that “tight timeframe.”