Dow Jones Stock Market Today – Schumer Says Senate Democrats Working to Raise Minimum Wage
By Kristina Peterson and Andrew Duehren
WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Senate Democrats are pushing to include an increase in the federal minimum wage in their Covid-19 relief package, despite reservations from some in the party and other potential hurdles.
House Democrats this week unveiled a coronavirus relief package that included a provision to raise the federal minimum wage over time to $15 per hour, up from its current level of $7.25 per hour. In the Senate, however, procedural rules for passing legislation without GOP support raise complications for Democrats hoping to quickly move a minimum-wage increase, and at least one Democrat — Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia — has said he is opposed to the change.
Mr. Schumer indicated Tuesday that he was still hoping to pass it in the Senate.
“We’re trying to work as well as we can with the parliamentarian to get minimum wage to happen, that’s all I’m going to say,” Mr. Schumer said.
Both the House and Senate last week passed a budget outline, opening up a process known as reconciliation that would allow them to pass President Biden‘s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package with a simple majority, rather than the 60 votes required for most legislation. Democratic leaders have said they hope to secure some GOP support, but they are making plans to pass the legislation without it. Still, they can’t afford to lose any Democratic votes in the evenly divided Senate.
Not all bills can be passed using reconciliation. Senate rules require that measures passed under it must have budgetary effects that aren’t merely incidental to the policy aims. It isn’t clear that raising the minimum wage will be considered permissible. The nonpartisan parliamentarian of the Senate determines which measures are eligible to pass under reconciliation.
Democrats have said the increase is necessary to lift low-wage workers out of poverty and deliver pay increases to many essential employees during the coronavirus pandemic. Republicans and some businesses and economists have warned that such an increase could cost jobs as the U.S. recovers from pandemic layoffs.
Mr. Biden said last week in an interview with CBS News that he thought the Senate’s parliamentary rules would prevent Democrats from including an increase in the minimum wage in the relief package.
On Monday, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said that raising the minimum wage to $15 by 2025 could deliver raises for 27 million workers and lift 900,000 Americans above the poverty threshold, but it could cost 1.4 million Americans their jobs over the next four years.
The study found the cumulative federal budget deficit from 2021 to 2031 would increase by $54 billion if a $15 federal minimum was enacted largely because higher prices for goods and services would contribute to an increase in federal spending. That impact is small relative to the last fiscal year’s $3.1 trillion deficit.
Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) said the CBO report indicated that raising the minimum wage had enough of a budgetary impact to be permitted under the Senate’s rules.
“The CBO has demonstrated that increasing the minimum wage would have a direct and substantial impact on the federal budget,” Mr. Sanders said in a statement Monday. “What that means is that we can clearly raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour under the rules of reconciliation.”
Republicans have criticized Democrats for quickly preparing to pass legislation without GOP support rather than taking more time for bipartisan negotiations and assessing the impact of the roughly $4 trillion Congress has already approved for coronavirus relief.
“Although we must do more, Congress just acted about a month ago to deliver almost a trillion dollars in additional relief to the American people,” Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington, the top Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said in a letter to its Democratic chairman released Tuesday. “Many of these resources still have not been spent, and for those that have been spent, we do not have a clear understanding of how such funds have been used.”
Mr. Biden has met with Senate Republicans, but Democratic leaders have said they don’t want bipartisan negotiations to bog down the process of passing additional relief before unemployment benefits expire in mid-March.
As soon as the House passes the aid package later this month, “we will send it to the Senate for further legislative action to be signed by President Biden before unemployment benefits expire,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) said in a letter Tuesday to House Democrats.
Mr. Biden is planning to travel to Milwaukee next Tuesday to participate in a town hall meeting hosted by Fintech Zoom, the White House said. Fintech Zoom said the town hall will focus in part on the coronavirus and the economy. It will be his first official trip as president, aside from a visit to Delaware this past weekend to spend time with his family.
House Democrats released other portions of the coronavirus relief bill on Monday, including provisions that would extend $400-a-week unemployment benefits through Aug. 29 and send $1,400 per-person payments to most households without lowering the income thresholds from earlier rounds.
Democrats have been debating whether to reduce those income levels, but the version headed for a vote in the House Ways and Means Committee this week gives the full amounts to individuals with incomes up to $75,000 and married couples with incomes up to $150,000. This time around, children and adult dependents would be eligible for the full $1,400. Those adult dependents, including disabled adults and college students, haven’t been previously eligible.
Compared with previous versions, the payments phase out faster as incomes rise, responding to lawmakers’ concerns about higher-income households possibly getting money. According to a committee summary, individual payments go to zero once individual income reaches $100,000 and married couples’ payments go to zero when income hits $200,000.
The legislation also expands the child tax credit, broadens child-care assistance and bolsters tax credits for health insurance.
Other sections of the relief plan will provide $130 billion in funding for K-12 schools, $40 billion for colleges and universities, and $39 billion for child-care providers. Mr. Biden has also proposed offering funds for vaccine distribution, unemployment programs, and state and local governments, among other measures.
Andrew Restuccia contributed to this article.
Write to Kristina Peterson at kristina.peterson@Fintech Zoom.com and Andrew Duehren at andrew.duehren@Fintech Zoom.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
February 09, 2021 13:46 ET (18:46 GMT)
Copyright (c) 2021 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
Market news on Fintech Zoom.