“I’m very proud of the strong arguments our legal team is making to the parliamentarian that raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour is not ‘incidental’ to the federal budget and is permissible under the rules of reconciliation,” the Vermont independent told CNN on Saturday.
Senate parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough, who enforces the Byrd Rule, has yet to determine whether the minimum wage measure is within the rules of reconciliation. Senators can challenge the parliamentarian’s decisions and vote to waive the Byrd Rule, but they would need a 60 vote majority to do so.
Sanders and the Budget Committee’s legal team have been meeting with the Senate parliamentarian’s office this week, arguing that the minimum wage increase would directly affect the federal budget and therefore be allowed to pass the Senate with only 51 votes through the reconciliation.
CNN previously reported that the parliamentarian was “stoic” during a meeting this week with Democratic aides about whether the minimum wage provision would be permissible through reconciliation and did not tip her hand one way or the other, according to a Democratic aide familiar.
The minimum wage portion of the Covid-19 relief package has been a point of contention from the beginning. Sanders and progressive Democrats believe including it is necessary and would provide them an important legislative victory early on in the Biden administration. But Republicans are very much opposed to its inclusion and if it were included in the final package it would destroy any slim hope of bipartisan support for the plan.
“I’m confident that the parliamentarian will advise next week that we can raise the minimum wage through the reconciliation process,” he told CNN.
Sanders’ legislation calls for hiking the hourly wage in stages until it hits $15 in 2025.
This story has been updated with additional details Saturday.
CNN’s Phil Mattingly, Lauren Fox, Tami Luhby and Manu Raju contributed to this report.
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