Last week, Joe Biden met with a group of governors and mayors where he bluntly told them that his proposed minimum wage hike is unlikely to happen, at least in the near term.
According to a person in the room, Biden told the group, “I really want this in there, but it just doesn’t look like we can do it because of reconciliation.” He continued, “I’m not going to give up. But right now, we have to prepare for this, not making it.”
Biden privately told a group of mayors and governors last week that his proposed minimum wage hike was unlikely to happen.
It's the furthest he's gone in conceding the coming axing of the $15 minimum wage provision from his first major legislative package https://t.co/gOlRYdHCUt
— POLITICO (@politico) February 18, 2021
These comments were the furthest that Biden has gone in acknowledging the upcoming failure of the $15 per hour minimum wage provision from his first legislative move. Said conversation was also confirmed by two other people who are familiar with the conversation.
And they suggest that Biden is more likely to handle the fallout of the $15 per house minimum wage not being included than to pursue long-shot, political-capital exhausting efforts to fight for its insertion.
Last Friday, while Biden is sitting in the Oval Office together with Democratic and Republican lawmakers to advocate for his $1.9 trillion Covid relief package, the President didn’t hide his skepticism.
Biden said, referring to the minimum wage hike, “Doesn’t look like we can do it.”
$7.25/hour is a poverty wage.
Raising the federal minimum wage to $15/hour would give 30 million workers a raise and 1 million people would be lifted out of poverty.
That's why @USProgressives fought to include a provision to #RaiseTheWage in the COVID-19 relief package. pic.twitter.com/kymmRzvQbe
— Mark Takano (@RepMarkTakano) February 17, 2021
The White House has been trying to handle expectations for weeks about the feasibility of pushing the $15 per hour minimum wage provision through a more broad “rescue” package.
In an interview with CBS before before the Super Bowl, Biden first suggested that the $15 per hour minimum wage provision might not make it into the final COVID-19 relief bill, remarking his belief that the Senate parliamentarian would discover that said provision does not jobe with the budgetary rules.
The President’s comments received backlash from fellow Democrats who argued that raising the minimum wage is needed not only by the economically battered country but also sounds political too. They also pressure the White House to find a way for making it reconciliation compliant in order to urge party members who are skeptical of raising the minimum wage to get on board. If it is reconciliation compliant, the party can also consider the procedural option of having the Democratic party, together with Vice President Harris, overrule the parliamentary.
CPC Chair @PramilaJayapal on minimum wage:
"Frankly given the makeup of the Senate, this is our best opportunity and the right moment in the midst of this pandemic to give millions of workers a long overdue raise."
— Heather Caygle (@heatherscope) February 18, 2021
On Thursday, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash) said on a press call with reporters, “Given the makeup of the Senate, this is our best opportunity and the right moment in the midst of this pandemic, to give millions of workers a long-overdue raise.”
Meanwhile, White House spokesperson Mike Gwin said, “President Biden has been consistent in private and public about his commitment to raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, which is why he included it in his first major piece of legislation.” Gwin also added, “That commitment will remain unshaken whether or not this can be done through reconciliation.”
The suggestion that Biden made with governors and mayors that they should start preparing for the absence of the minimum wage hike in the upcoming COVID-19 relief bill suggests that the President is reluctant to use strong-arm options.
The meeting that Biden had with the state and local leaders involved a wide-ranging conversation, touching on series of topics starting from municipal assistance to the importance of reopening schools. But some in the room made a point of pushing back on his proposal to include the higher $15 minimum wage in the $1.9 trillion relief package.