Democrats continue to quarrel over $15 minimum wage

Democrats continue to quarrel over $15 minimum wage as Chuck Schumer calls in Bernie Sanders and Joe Manchin with no progress as moderates hold out for smaller hike

  • Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer convened Democratic factions in his Senate leadership office
  • Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia backs an $11 wage hike
  • Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) floated wage indexed to inflation
  • Bernie Sanders would attach it to other legislation 

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer brought in opposing Democratic factions who are split over a $15 minimum wage Tuesday in an effort to find a way forward after it got jettisoned from the $1.9 trillion coronavirus package.

Joining were $15-an-hour wage advocate Sen. Bernie Sanders and West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin, who is among a group of Democrats pushing a compromise or smaller hike.

It was the first in-person meeting Schumer has convened to resolve an issue that some elected Democrats have waited years to enact – with an ongoing push from strengthening progressive forces in the party.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) backs an $11-an-hour increase in the minimum wage. He joined in a meeting with senators including Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who backs a $15 wage hike, and floated attaching it to critical legislation to get it through the Senate

Manchin has been dug in on his own proposal for an $11-an-hour hike. Some of his colleagues are pushing alternatives. One, by Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), is floating a $11 wage that gets indexed to inflation. 

‘I’ve generally been supportive of a $12 increase, but I was very concerned that in the midst of this pandemic this would have an impact, particularly on the restaurant business,” Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) told Politico

Another idea is to create a ‘regional’ minimum wage, in an effort to bring on Democratic votes from lower-wage states like West Virginia.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders wants a $15 federal minimum wage

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders wants a $15 federal minimum wage

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), is floating a $11 wage that gets indexed to inflation and rises over time

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), is floating a $11 wage that gets indexed to inflation and rises over time

Democrats are short of 50 votes for a $15 minimum wage in the Senate, where Republicans control half the seats

Democrats are short of 50 votes for a $15 minimum wage in the Senate, where Republicans control half the seats

They joined in Schumer’s leadership office. 

Democrats remain short of 50 votes for the $15 wage that has gained political support in numerous local jurisdictions around the country. That means they couldn’t push it through even if they went along with activists who want to end the legislative filibuster to ram it through the Senate.

To pass a wage hike to overcome a filibuster under the 60-vote rules of the Senate, Democrats would need to bring over 10 Republicans. 

Sanders wants to try to force action by attaching it to critical legislation like the annual Defense bill – a move that would draw furious Republican opposition. The House has already passed a $15 minimum wage hike.

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