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Minimal wage hike in COVID-19 aid invoice clears first, key hurdle in Home

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The House needs to hold firm, keeping that provision in the bill and keeping it there to challenge the Senate to do the right thing. Right now, the primary thing (besides Manchin bitching about $15/hour being too much) is the concern that the provision would be ruled out of order by the Senate parliamentarian as not complying with the Byrd rule, which precludes “extraneous matters” from being included in budget reconciliation bills. The thing about that “rule” is that it’s built to be challenged. It’s completely up to the parliamentarian to decide, and then it’s completely up to the Senate majority to decide if they agree with the parliamentarian and will let her ruling stand. They don’t have to—they can overrule her and keep it in the bill.

That’s the approach Sen. Bernie Sanders is taking, which is significant because as chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, he’s just about the most powerful force behind the bill after Biden, along with Ron Wyden chairing the Finance Committee. Their two committees have jurisdiction over the bulk of the bill’s provisions. Sanders will keep pushing, because as he he has said “Let’s be clear. We are never going to get 10 Republicans to increase the minimum wage through ‘regular order.’ The only way to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour now is to pass it with 51 votes through budget reconciliation.” That’s after some waffling from Biden, who told CBS News over the weekend he didn’t think the minimum wage would pass muster with the parliamentarian and talked about having a “separate negotiation” for the wage boost.

For his part, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is not making any promises either way. “We’re trying to work as well as we can with the parliamentarian to get the minimum wage to happen,” he told reporters earlier in the week. “That’s all I’m going to say.” It’s perhaps impolitic to promise publicly at this stage that he’s willing to go along with overruling the parliamentarian and leaving the provision in, but that’s the reality he needs to establish in his conference. This is why he’s got the job, why millions of grassroots volunteers and activists—and voters—put the Democrats in charge of the Senate. To do big things.

As Daily Kos’s David Nir says, “voters don’t care about procedure—they care about results.” It’s not like Democrats are going to garner any Republican support for the bill by not fighting for the minimum wage. And do they really think Joe Manchin is going to be the guy responsible for destroying the New Democratic president’s first major priority, and sink the nation’s economy to boot?

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