Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren Call on Harris to Override Parliamentarian on $15 Minimum Wage

Senators Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts on Monday urged Vice President Kamala Harris to override the parliamentarian's ruling that reconciliation cannot be used on the $15 minimum wage hike in President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion stimulus relief package.

Sanders, chair of the Senate Budget Committee, has refused to give up on passing the $15 minimum wage after Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough decided that the measure did not meet the requirements of the budget process called reconciliation.

MacDonough's ruling could be overruled by Harris, but Democratic leaders on Monday indicated that they will likely cut the wage hike to quickly pass the sprawling bill.

"My personal view is that the idea that we have a Senate staffer, a high-ranking staffer, deciding whether 30 million Americans get a pay raise or not is nonsensical," Sanders told reporters. "We have got to make that decision, not a staffer who's unelected, so my own view is that we should ignore the rulings, the decision of the parliamentarian."

Bernie Sanders in Senate
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-V.T.), Chairman of the Budget Committee, speaks during a U.S. Senate Budget Committee hearing regarding wages at large corporations on Capitol Hill, February 25, 2021 in Washington, DC. Stefani Reynolds/Getty

He added: "Given the enormous crises facing this country and the desperation of working families, we have got to as soon as possible end the filibuster. We cannot have a minority of members define what the American people want."

The House of Representatives passed the relief bill largely along party lines in a 219-212 vote on Friday. The aid measure now advances to the Senate, where the $15 minimum wage provision is expected to be amended. After amendments are decided in the upper chamber, the bill will then be sent back to the House for a final vote.

Sanders has vowed to force a vote in the upper chamber to determine support for the $15 minimum wage later this week. "To the best of my knowledge, there will be a vote on the minimum wage, and we'll see what happens," he said. "I intend to offer the bill that will raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, and we'll see how the votes go."

Warren joined Sanders in calling for Democrats to ignore the parliamentarian's decision. "I agree," she said.

After MacDonough's ruling last week, progressives indicated that Democrats could lose their support if they fail to find a way to include the wage hike. "I don't think we can go back to voters and say, 'Look, I know Republicans, Democrats, independents support this; we promised it, but because of an unelected parliamentarian who gave us a ruling, we couldn't do it,'" said Representative Pramila Jayapal of Washington, who chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

Newsweek reached out to Vice President Kamala Harris' office for further comment.