Senator Bernie Sanders (IV.T.), chair of the Budget Committee, speaks during a hearing of the United States Senate Budget Committee on salaries at large corporations on Capitol Hill in Washington, February 25, 2021 .
Stefani Reynolds | Reuters
Top Democrats are crafting new plans that would penalize large corporations that pay their employees less than $ 15 an hour after a Senate official ruled Thursday that the party could not include a pay increase in its stimulus bill. of 1.9 trillion dollars.
Democrats led by Senators Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., And Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Pledged to seek amendments to the existing aid package that would punish corporations that pay workers below a certain hourly rate. .
Sanders was quick to rebuke the decision by Senate MP Elizabeth McDonough, who determined late Thursday that a $ 15 minimum wage provision did not meet the strict budget standards imposed by the budget reconciliation process.
“I totally disagree with the Senate MP’s decision tonight,” Sanders said in a press release Thursday. “Over the next few days, I will work with my colleagues in the Senate to move forward with an amendment that eliminates tax deductions for large, profitable corporations that do not pay workers at least $ 15 an hour and to provide small businesses with the incentives. they need to increase wages. “
“That amendment should be included in this reconciliation bill,” he added.
On Friday morning, Wyden, who is working closely with Sanders on the amendment, offered more details on “plan B.”
He said his amendment, if accepted, would impose a 5% penalty on the total payroll of a large corporation if any worker earns less than a specified amount. Wyden added that the penalty would increase over time and include safeguards to prevent companies from attempting to outsource labor to evade paying living wages.
“We couldn’t get in through the front door or the back door, so we’ll try to get through the window,” Wyden said of the new plan. “As the talks continue, I believe that this ‘plan B’ provides us with a path to move forward and achieve this through the reconciliation process.”
The United States last raised the minimum wage to $ 7.25 an hour in 2009.
Wyden, who is also the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, added that his amendment would provide a tax credit equal to 25% of wages, up to $ 10,000 per year per employer, to small businesses that pay higher wages to their workers. .
A senior Democratic adviser confirmed Friday that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., is considering adding a provision to the bill in line with what Sanders and Wyden have proposed.
Although Democrats were more vocal about the MP’s decision, Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri is working to pass a new law aimed at increasing the minimum wage for blue-collar workers.
Hawley, who faced fierce bipartisan criticism for voting to overturn the election of President Joe Biden, announced on Wednesday a bill that would give low-wage workers a “bonus” through an automatic anticipated tax credit.
Hawley’s office touted the plan as better than a minimum wage increase because “it does not impose a significant new burden on small businesses, many of which are still recovering from damaging closures.”
Senators will have the opportunity to table amendments to Biden’s $ 1.9 trillion stimulus plan after the House passes the legislation and a lower house vote is expected later on Friday. Democrats have a slim 50-50 majority in the Senate and Vice President Kamala Harris is the key vote to break the tie.
Still, the debate over the bill in the Senate is expected to be riddled with cheating, because a single Democratic vote against the plan would sink it.