Ilhan Omar Blames Joe Biden for 'Failed' $15 Minimum Wage Push

Representative Ilhan Omar said the White House pursued a "failed strategy" as she blamed President Joe Biden for the $15 minimum wage not passing with the rest of the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill.

The Minnesota Democrat told MSNBC on Sunday that the Biden administration's "early signaling" that the $15 minimum wage was up for negotiation made it harder for progressives on Capitol Hill to pass it through the Senate.

She also argued that the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill was one of the "most progressive" policies in decades as a result of pressure from the progressive caucus.

Appearing on The Mehdi Hasan Show, Omar said: "We certainly understand that there was a failed strategy, not by the progressives in Congress, because we put [the $15 minimum wage] in the package, by the administration.

"I think their early signaling that [the $15 minimum wage] could be negotiated out and it might not stick as part of the final package really, I think, endangered the ability for us to pass $15."

She added that in a meeting with White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain last week, progressives pushed for a fresh $15 minimum wage strategy.

Speaking about Senate Democrats opposed to some planks of the progressive agenda, Omar later said: "It's going to be up to the administration to come up with a strategy to push them."

The White House promised earlier this month that it would begin the next round in its fight for a national minimum wage hike after the measure was killed during the budget reconciliation process.

"We're going to talk to our allies on Capitol Hill, our allies in the broader fight for 15, and figure out how we line up votes, and how we move it through the legislative process," Klain told MSNBC at the time.

The proposed wage hike was effectively blocked by the Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough and inaction from the Biden administration in February.

MacDonough ruled that the wage increase breached budget reconciliation rules and could not be included with the rest of the COVID-19 relief bill. Vice President Kamala Harris then refused to overrule the unelected, bipartisan official, despite having the power to do so.

In a statement released after the parliamentarian's ruling, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said: "President Biden is disappointed in this outcome, as he proposed having the $15 minimum wage as part of the American Rescue Plan. He respects the parliamentarian's decision and the Senate's process.

Newsweek has contacted the White House for further comment.

Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota
Rep. Ilhan Omar speaks during a "get out the vote" event on the University of Minnesota campus on November 3, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Stephen Maturen/Getty Images