Elizabeth Warren Says Filibuster Is 'Giving a Veto to Mitch McConnell' on Minimum Wage

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has taken aim at the Senate filibuster as she pushes for an increase in the federal minimum wage and the passage of President Joe Biden's COVID-19 stimulus package.

The House of Representatives passed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan on a party line vote on Friday. No Republicans voted in favor while two Democrats broke ranks and voted against it.

Warren, a prominent supporter of the relief package, defended its provision raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 in an email to supporters on Friday. She also criticized Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

"It's hard to imagine two-thirds of Americans agreeing on much of anything. But two-thirds of Americans support raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour," Warren said.

That figure comes from a Pew Research Center survey published on July 30, 2019.

"That's why President Biden included this plan in his COVID relief package. That's why the House of Representatives put it in their bill, too. That's why the Senate needs to take action," the email went on.

"But right now, raising the minimum wage is getting bogged down in the Senate. Why? Because of the filibuster — a procedural loophole that lets an extreme minority of senators block the majority from passing bills that have the broad support of the American people."

"The filibuster is giving a veto to Mitch McConnell," Warren said. "A veto to the gun industry. A veto to the oil industry. For generations, racist senators took advantage of the filibuster to block anti-lynching laws and civil rights bills. And it's still blocking progress today."

The minimum wage provision will likely be stripped out of the bill in the Senate after the chamber's parliamentarian ruled it could not be included under the rules of budget reconciliation.

It's been suggested Democrats could overrule the parliamentarian's advisory opinion since they enjoy a majority of one. However, Republican senators could use the filibuster to prevent this.

An obscure parliamentary procedure sometimes called "talking a bill to death", the filibuster allows a senator to speak for an unlimited amount of time on a matter in an effort to delay or permanently prevent a vote on it. This can only be ended by a cloture vote of 60 senators, which Democrats can't presently muster.

"Unless we get rid of the filibuster, the Republican Senate minority will be able to keep using their favorite word — 'no' — to block so many things we need to get done," Warren said.

"'No' to protecting the right to vote. 'No' to rooting corruption out of Washington. 'No' to commonsense gun safety reform. 'No' to raising the minimum wage for the first time in over a decade."

"It's long past time to get rid of the filibuster. We must remove Mitch McConnell's veto power over broadly popular policies the American people want to see passed," she said.

McConnell criticized the stimulus package ahead of its consideration by the Senate.

"The House's partisan vote reflects a deliberately partisan process and a missed opportunity to meet Americans' needs," the Republican said.

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) questions Xavier Becerra, nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services, at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Finance Committee on Capitol Hill February 24, 2021 in Washington, DC. Warren has strongly criticized the filibuster and defended raising the federal minimum wage. Michael Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images