Democrats Round on Filibuster After $15 Minimum Wage Blow

Democrats are preparing for a fresh fight to end the filibuster after the Senate parliamentarian advised on Thursday that the $15 minimum wage could not be included in President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill.

Elizabeth MacDonough, the nonpartisan Senate parliamentarian, said including the $15 minimum wage proposal in the bill would violate the Byrd Rule—a precedent that bars items not directly related to the budget from being included in reconciliation bills.

President Biden has since signaled that he will not go against the judgment of the unelected advisor, meaning the $15 minimum wage will have to be passed in a separate bill, should the White House still pursue the policy.

Reacting to the Senate parliamentarian decision, a number of progressive lawmakers called for the filibuster to be thrown out as they sought to remove another potential blockade to the $15 minimum wage measure.

Senator Elizabeth Warren
Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) called for the filibuster to be abolished after the Senate parliamentarian ruled against the $15 minimum wage being included in President Joe Biden's COVID-19 relief bill. Mandel Ngan-Pool/Getty Images

The political tactic allows a senator to speak for a long period without breaks to delay the vote on a bill. A supermajority of 60 votes is needed to curb their speech and proceed with a vote.

Posting on social media last night, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) said: "Democrats should not be held hostage by Mitch McConnell to help struggling families. It is time to get rid of the filibuster to raise the minimum wage to $15 and pass the other bold policies that Americans voted for us to deliver."

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), a member of The Squad, called for the filibuster to be abolished, and for the removal of the sitting parliamentarian. "What's a Democratic majority if we can't pass our priority bills?" she tweeted. "This is unacceptable."

"People don't care about keeping the filibuster. People don't care about listening to the parliamentarian," freshman Congresswoman Cori Bush (D-MO) tweeted. "People care about getting the relief they need. Do what it takes to raise the minimum wage to at least $15.

Senators Alex Padilla (D-CA) and Chris Murphy (D-CT) also added their voices to the calls for the filibuster the be abolished.

Many lawmakers will have their eyes on Vice President Kamala Harris after the Senate parliamentarian's ruling. The second in command still has the power to overrule the view of the advisor, and include the $15 minimum wage in the COVID-19 relief bill.

However, the Biden administration has indicated that Harris will not be exercising that power. Speaking to MSNBC on Wednesday, White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain said: "That's not something we would do, we're going to honor the rules of the Senate, and we will work within that system to get this bill passed."

Releasing a statement on Thursday night, the White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Biden was "disappointed" by the ruling, but would "respect" the decision and Senate process.