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On $15 Minimum Wage, Will Kamala Harris Overrule the Senate Parliamentarian?

Newsweek logo Newsweek 2/26/2021 Daniel Villarreal
a man holding a stop sign: On Thursday, the Senate parliamentarian ruled that the Democrats' proposed $15 national minimum wage increase cannot be passed as part of Democratic President Joe Biden's COVID-19 stimulus bill. In this photo, New York City fast food workers and supporters protest in Herald Square to raise the minimum wage for fast food workers to $15 dollars an hour. The protest was organized by New York Communities for Change. © James Leynse/Corbis/Getty On Thursday, the Senate parliamentarian ruled that the Democrats' proposed $15 national minimum wage increase cannot be passed as part of Democratic President Joe Biden's COVID-19 stimulus bill. In this photo, New York City fast food workers and supporters protest in Herald Square to raise the minimum wage for fast food workers to $15 dollars an hour. The protest was organized by New York Communities for Change.

The Senate parliamentarian has ruled that Democrats' proposed $15 national minimum wage increase cannot be passed as part of Democratic President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus bill.

Elizabeth MacDonough is the Senate parliamentarian, a nonpartisan advisor on how the congressional chamber's rules and protocols are applied.

MacDonough's ruling could possibly be overruled by Vice President Kamala Harris, but it's unclear if Harris will do so. If she doesn't, Democrats will have to introduce a minimum wage hike as its own standalone Senate bill. Passing the bill would likely require 60 votes, including all 50 members of the chamber's Democratic caucus and 10 Republican members.

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However, congressional Republicans have largely opposed the Democratic proposal to raise the minimum wage. They argue a wage hike will harm small businesses who have already been economically harmed during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

On Monday, Republican Senators Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Mitt Romney of Utah introduced a $10 national minimum wage plan. It is called the Higher Wages for American Workers Act. The GOP plan would gradually raise the federal minimum wage from its current rate of $7.25 an hour to $10 an hour by 2025.

The plan was criticized by Democratic legislators and others for being lower than the minimum wage in Cotton's home state—$11 an hour.

Romney and Cotton's plan would only raise wages for around 3 percent of American workers, compared to 21.2 percent of workers under the Democratic proposal, according to an analysis published Wednesday by the Economic Policy Institute.

This is a breaking news story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

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