The $15 Minimum Wage Increase: What You Need to Know

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Last week, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders told reporters exactly what he thought of the $11 minimum wage counter-offer made by Joe Manchin in the Tuesday session. The senator reminded reporters that tens of million American workers were working for starvation wages. “It is an absolute national disgrace. $15 an hour is not a radical idea,” the senator said.

The senator’s statement follows Joe Manchin’s opinion on the $15 federal minimum wage increase proposal in President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion Covid-19 stimulus plan. While Democrats in Congress are working overtime to ensure that this portion of the stimulus package stays put, Joe Manchin, a moderate Democrat whose vote is crucial to negotiations, objected to it. Manchin did however propose a compromise of $11 an hour. Biden’s plans entail raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025, starting with a raise to $9.50 this year.

Whether or not the minimum wage hike meets the requirements to be passed is a matter of some debate. Democrats pursued Reconciliation, a legislative route that doesn’t rely on Republican support. According to Senator Byrd Rule, extraneous funds cannot be added to a budget bill.

However, the Senate parliamentarian decides what constitutes extraneous. President Biden expressed doubt that the Senate would pass this proposal, but Democrats like Sanders and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer were still confident. Democrats control the 50-50 chamber by a slim majority. Vice President Kamala Harris is the tiebreaker, but the Democrats could not afford to lose a single member of their caucus in the final vote on the Reconciliation.

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