By: Andrew Trunsky
Arizona Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema said that she does not support the inclusion of a $15 minimum wage in President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package.
“What’s important is whether or not it’s directly related to short-term Covid relief. And if it’s not, then I am not going to support it in this legislation,” Sinema told Politico.
The opposition from Sinema, a moderate who in 2018 became the first Democrat to win an Arizona Senate seat since 1988, could ultimately kill the measure in the 50-50 Senate.
Democrats are using a legislative tool called budget reconciliation to pass Biden’s relief plan, which allows for bills to bypass the 60-vote Senate filibuster and instead advance with a simple majority. The rule however, applies only to budget-related legislation.
“The minimum wage provision is not appropriate for the reconciliation process. It is not a budget item. And it shouldn’t be in there,” Sinema added.
Sinema’s break from her party means that a $15 minimum wage, which Biden campaigned on and many Democrats support, will likely fail to avoid the Senate filibuster and require 60 votes to pass the chamber. The Senate could abolish the filibuster rule and allow any legislation to pass with a simple majority, but every Democrat would have to vote in favor of doing so in the equally divided body. Sinema and West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin have said that they will not vote to do so.
“Kyrsten is against eliminating the filibuster, and she is not open to changing her mind about eliminating the filibuster,” a spokesperson said in January.
While Biden has repeatedly called for a $15 minimum wage, he acknowledged that it would likely not appear in the final relief bill because it did not directly relate to coronavirus relief and was not a budget item.
“I do think that we should have a minimum wage, stand by itself [at] $15 an hour,” Biden told CBS on Sunday. “Well, apparently, that’s not going to occur because of the rules of the United States Senate… I don’t think it’s going to survive.”
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