Progressives in the House of Representatives may delay Congress in passing Joe Biden’s $ 1.9 trillion stimulus package, which includes the much-anticipated $ 1,400 aid checks, to keep the $ 15 minimum wage increase in the lengthy bill.
Progressive lawmakers on Friday warned Democratic leaders that they could retain their vote in favor of the legislation if the Senate removes the pay increase. His opposition could return the package for renegotiation, further paralyzing approval of the bill.
“There are progressive Democrats who have that strength in the House. If we, as a party, decide to back out of our promise to raise the minimum wage, I think that is extraordinarily false and is something that, as a party, we could have one more conversation about. how to fight for it, “said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, after suggesting that progressives should pressure party leaders by withholding their votes in the same way that moderate Democrats have done in opposing the package.
In the early hours of Saturday morning, the House of Representatives passed the relief bill largely along party lines in a vote of 219-212. Two Democrats, Jared Golden of Maine and Kurt Schrader of Oregon , they broke with the party to oppose legislation that Republicans in the lower house voted unanimously against.
The aid legislation now advances to the Senate, where the $ 15 minimum wage increase is expected to be amended. It will then be sent back to the House for another vote.
The House bill includes raising the federal minimum wage by 2025, a measure strongly opposed by Republicans and some moderate Democrats. However, Senate MP Elizabeth MacDonough, a non-partisan interpreter of the House rules, recently said she did not meet the reconciliation requirements.
Senate Democrats had paved the way to use the budget process to push through legislation with a simple majority, as the House is evenly divided and Vice President Kamala Harris has the runoff vote. But with MacDonough’s ruling, party members are now spending the weekend exploring other avenues to pass the measure.
Washington Representative Pramila Jayapal, chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told reporters that Democrats could lose the support of progressives if they can’t find a way to include the pay increase.
“I don’t think we can go back to the voters and say, ‘Look, I know the Republicans, the Democrats, the independents support this; we promised it, but because of an unelected MP who gave us a ruling, we couldn’t do it.’ ” ,'” she said. “There are a lot of great things in the package, but if it gets diluted, it’s a completely different topic. So we have to see how it ends.”
On Friday, Ocasio-Cortez also warned the Biden administration that the minimum wage debate “sets the stage for how effective we will be for the rest of our term.”
Jayapal has lobbied for Harris to annul MacDonough. While the vice president has the authority to override the MP’s decision, she is not expected to do so.
On Thursday, Senator Bernie Sanders, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, said he will introduce an amendment that will “eliminate tax deductions for large, profitable corporations that do not pay workers at least $ 15 an hour and provide small companies the incentives they need to increase wages. “
Newsweek reached out to the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for comment.