One of Biden’s key campaign promises centered on a $15/hour federal minimum wage, which became popularly known as the “Fight for Fifteen.” Nonetheless, mere weeks into his administration, Biden is already backing down from the fight for a $15/hour minimum wage, admitting that his proposed federal minimum wage increase likely needs to be placed on hold, at least for now.
The primary reason for the White House backing down from the $15/hour minimum wage is due to the proposal’s interference with the America Rescue Plan, also known as the $1.9T COVID relief package pushed by the Biden administration. The GOP made it abundantly clear that they oppose particular language within the bill that purportedly provided economic relief.
Biden notes that he placed the $15/hour federal minimum wage in the COVID relief package, but his “guess is that it will not be in [the final version of the stimulus bill].”
Biden would also face other issues with his proposed minimum wage, including congressional procedures.
According to CNBC, Democrat representatives in Congress have indicated that they would pass the $1.9T stimulus package without GOP support in the Senate through reconciliation, a parliamentary procedure. Under the rules that ground reconciliation, it is unlikely for a federal minimum wage to be covered, as “only measures that have an impact on the budget can be passed.” According to House Speaker Pelosi, the lower chamber plans to pass the COVID relief package within the next two weeks.
However, Biden has indicated that he will work towards a $15/hour federal minimum wage in other negotiations.
“I’m prepared as the president of the United States on a separate negotiation on minimum wage to work my way up from what it is now,” Biden informed CBS, adding that no one should work full-time and earn poverty wages.
However, Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT), who serves as the Senate Budget Committee Chairman, indicated that he is continuing to press towards a $15/hour federal minimum wage due to its presumed budget implications.