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Minimum Wage Proposal in Covid-19 Aid Plan Divides Senate Democrats

Washington-Sen.Joe Manchin, West Virginia, may be the loudest Democrat who shares his concerns about raising the minimum wage included in his party $ 1.9 Trillion Coronavirus Relief Bill— But he’s not the only one with anxiety.

Democratic leaders must fight a quieter and wider group of Senate Democrats in legislative problems as the House passes a bailout bill later this week and prepares to send it to the Senate. Probably. And because Democrats pass the bill without Republican support, they can’t afford to lose a single vote within their own ranks.

Arizona’s Manchin and Senator Kyrsten Cinema are the only two Democrats who frankly say they are against. Raise the minimum wage to $ 15 per hour By 2025, it will increase from the current $ 7.25. However, 10 other Senate Democrats have not signed an independent bill to raise the minimum wage to that level, and some Democrats have opposed the current structure of wage increases and possible amendments. I’m ready for.

“Everyone will have what they want to see in the bill, and we will work hard to see if we can put them in the bill, but the first job is to pass the bill. That’s what Senate leader Chuck Schumer (D., NY) told reporters on Tuesday.

With the bill supported by President Biden Scheduled to pass the House of Representatives later this weekProvides $ 400 weekly unemployment allowance until August 29, pays most households $ 1,400 per person, provides billions of dollars in school and vaccine distribution, and expands child tax credits We will expand childcare support and strengthen tax credits. For health insurance.

Democrats are widely supporting the bill as it fights for parts of the bill, including the duration of the bill. Unemployment allowance How to target direct payments. But the minimum wage is the most controversial.

Senator John Hickenlooper, Democratic Party of Colorado, said he was concerned about the impact of a $ 15 wage on small businesses and was looking at possible ways to protect small businesses from new labor costs. Stated. Some Democrats are looking to offer tax cuts to small businesses under wage increases.

“I think we need to keep SMEs in mind. I think there are many variations that can help block the impact of SMEs,” says Hickenlooper.

“I think we need to keep small businesses in mind,” said Senator John Hickenlooper, Democratic Party of Colorado.


Photo:

Alexander Drago / Reuters

A particularly tricky area is how to raise the minimum wage of workers who earn a portion of their income through tips such as servers and bartenders. The bailout bill raises the minimum wage for all workers to $ 15 and prevents businesses from paying tip workers only $ 2.13 per hour, as long as they earn at least the minimum wage after the tip is added.

“If the minimum wage provision is included in the bill with the abolition of tip credits, it would be very difficult for me to support it,” said Senator Angus King, a Democratic rally and supporter. State) said. Overall it will increase to $ 15 per hour. He was worried that higher labor costs at the company could lead to fewer employees. And during the pandemic, “many restaurants are just hanging on the thread,” he said.

Worker advocates say the proposed changes mean that servers and others have more consistent income and face less wage theft. The restaurant industry says that existing chip structures mean that many jobs are already paying well above the minimum wage, and new legislation will jeopardize jobs while restaurants are still hurt from the pandemic. say.

Some Republicans have also expressed support for wage increases, but have not accepted the Democratic plan.

Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, said, “I just want to make sure that whatever happens in the end doesn’t discourage employment.”

West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin and Arizona’s Kyrsten Cinema could be the most powerful in the Senate, which is evenly divided between the two parties. The WSJ’s Gerald F. Save explains how the fate of the Biden administration’s agenda can be determined.Photo: Reuters

Senator Mitt Romney of Utah and Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas raised the minimum wage to $ 10 per hour in the four years following the end of the pandemic on Tuesday, giving all employers E-Verify. Introduced a law requiring its use. Check the immigration status of future workers.

Senator Josh Hawley, a Republican in Missouri, said Tuesday he supported raising the minimum wage for large businesses to $ 15, but not for small businesses. “America’s largest companies can afford to pay workers $ 15 an hour,” he said on Twitter.

Meanwhile, Manchin said he would support raising the minimum wage to about $ 11.

White House spokesman Jen Psaki said President Biden is backing a $ 15 wage and is asking if it can be included in the package under Senate rules.

“Senator Manchin and others have the opportunity to come up with ideas and suggestions and see where the process goes,” she said on Tuesday.

Democrats are using to pass relief packages A budget-related process called adjustmentThis allows a simple majority of bills to proceed, rather than the 60 votes most bills require. This allows Democrats to pass the bill with the Vice President in the 50-50 Senate without a Republican vote.

Kamala Harris

Cast a tie break vote.

However, Senate rules require that measures passed under the settlement must be tied directly to the budget. It is not clear whether the increase in the minimum wage is considered acceptable by Senator Elizabeth McDonough. This decision may be made on Wednesday.

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) Is convinced Monday that parliamentarians will allow the minimum wage to rise and the bill will not be changed to increase Democratic Party members. Said that.

“I think we’ll just pass it on,” he said. “The Democratic Party will support the President of the United States, and the overwhelming majority of Americans want to pass this Covid emergency bill.”

“The overwhelming majority of Americans want to pass this Covid emergency bill,” said Senator Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.).


Photo:

erin scott / Reuters

Some progressive Democrats in the House will oppose the White House and the Senate including a minimum wage in the bill and will call on parliamentarians to be dismissed if it could open up divisions within the party. Said. Several senators, including Mr. Manchin and Mr. King, said they opposed changes to the rules that had historically been applied to the reconciliation process.

It’s not just the minimum wage that Democrats are still calling for changes to the bill. Many Democrats want to extend the enhanced federal unemployment allowance until September, rather than until August as in the House bill.

“Why do you want to build another cliff in the middle of the August break?” Asked Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D., Ore.)

However, making changes to the House bill in the Senate is subtle, as Senators cannot raise the overall price tag for the bill. To extend the unemployment allowance period by one month, lawmakers need to save about $ 50 billion elsewhere.

Senator Chris Van Hollen (D., Maryland, Maryland) said, “I think so when asked if I want to extend my unemployment allowance until September, but I’m trying to achieve that. I would say that I had to reduce the size of the child tax credits, “he said.

Write to Christina Peterson kristina.peterson@wsj.com And Andrew Duehren andrew.duehren@wsj.com

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Minimum Wage Proposal in Covid-19 Aid Plan Divides Senate Democrats

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