Stimulus bill update on minimum wage increase

The new stimulus bill is still getting negotiated and one of the biggest measures that could be included is the increase of the minimum wage from $7.25 to $15.

There has been a lot of doubts and also talk about this feature getting dropped from the stimulus bill (for a couple of big reasons).

One reason is that some dispute that it is within the rules to pass a federal minimum wage increase via the budget reconciliation route which is probably the route that Congress will go to pass the stimulus bill.

Democrats will have to convince Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough that a $15-an-hour wage mandate is eligible to pass that way which may not be so easy due to the Senate’s Byrd Rule which prohibits extraneous matter in a reconciliation bill.

Another just has to do with the general lack of support for the measure with some moderate Democrats not getting on board. Others are on board but only support increasing the minimum wage to $11 an hour.

But some Democrats like Bernie Sanders are pushing for the full $15 minimum wage hike to take place.

“It’s going to be in reconciliation if I have anything to say about it. The only way we’re going to get it passed — we’re not going to get the 60 votes that we need. The only way we’re going to do it with 50 votes is through reconciliation,” Sanders said.

But it is still not clear that there will be enough support for the $15 increase. Even Biden is expressing doubt about the minimum wage proposal ending up in the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan.

“I put it in but I don’t think it’s going to survive,” Biden said. “My guess is it will not be in.”

Not only would passing this through budget reconciliation be problematic but there is data suggesting that increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour would result in a large loss of employment.

According to a CNBC|SurveyMonkey Small Business Survey, 1/3 of small business owners said that they would like to lay off workers if the minimum wage were to increase.

In addition, according to CNBC, “[a] recent Congressional Budget Office analysis forecasts that a $15 minimum wage would lift 900,000 Americans out of poverty, but result in 1.4 million fewer jobs.”

So this increase has the potential to have major ramifications for a lot of working Americans.

Given the comments from Biden and from some of the other lawmakers, it doesn’t seem like this $15 minimum wage increase will end up in the final bill but you never know.



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