Biden casts doubt on $15 minimum wage hike in Covid relief package

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President Joe Biden expressed doubt that his push to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour would be included in a final coronavirus relief package.

In an interview excerpt with CBS News’ Norah O’Donnell released Friday, Biden predicted Senate rules would prevent the increase from going forward.

“My guess is it will not be in it,” he said. “I don’t think it is going to survive."

Biden’s coronavirus relief plan included a provision that raised the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the chair of the Senate Budget Committee, has been leading the charge to move it forward in the Senate through the so-called reconciliation process, which essentially allows Democrats to pass a broader coronavirus relief package without GOP support.

Sanders and his allies argue that the higher wage would reduce the amount of federal assistance low-income individuals receive and increase their taxable income — meeting the Senate parliamentarian’s requirement that any reconciliation measure have an effect on the federal budget.

Now that the Senate passed a budget resolution early Friday, it can begin to consider whether the $15 minimum wage qualifies for reconciliation. But even if the parliamentarian approved the measure, it could run into resistance from Democrats like Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), who opposes raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

During Thursday’s “vote-a-rama” leading up to the final vote on the budget resolution, the Senate approved by voice vote an amendment from Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) that would ban a $15 minimum wage hike during the pandemic.

Biden told CBS that he would continue to push to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

“I am prepared as president of the United States on a separate negotiation of minimum wage to work my way up from what it is now,” he said. “No one should work 40 hours a week and live below the poverty wage, and if you’re making less than $15 an hour, you’re living below the poverty wage.”

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