The Senate parliamentarian ruled Thursday that the provision to increase the minimum wage to $15/hour cannot be included in the broader $1.9 trillion COVID relief package.
Why it matters: It's now very likely that any increase in the minimum wage will need bipartisan support, as the provision cannot be passed with the simple Senate majority that Democrats are aiming to use for President Biden's rescue bill.
Between the lines: The process, called “reconciliation,” allows any bill in which each provision affects the federal government’s finances to be voted on by a 51-vote majority, as opposed to the regular 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster.
- The provision cannot be "merely incidental" to the government's finances, according to a statute known as the Byrd rule. The interpretation of this vague requirement was up to the parliamentarian, Elizabeth MacDonough, to decide.
What’s next: President Biden has promised to support a standalone bill to raise the minimum wage to $15/hour, but it's unlikely to get any Republican support.
The other side: Republicans have introduced their own versions of bills to increase the minimum wage.
- Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) proposed an increase to $10/hour by 2025. This bill, however, contains a provision that would mandate E-Verify for all employers to ensure the rising wages go to "legally authorized workers," which likely would not get any Democratic support.
- Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) introduced an alternative to the Democrats' proposal that would use federal dollars to increase low-earning workers' income. One foreseeable problem: the subsidy would disproportionally benefit those in states that have kept their minimum wages low.