Joe Manchin, Kyrsten Sinema Win on Byrd Rule as White House Pushes to Pass Stimulus

Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) have been vindicated in their suggestion that the minimum wage boost being pushed through reconciliation would not be in line with rules of the upper chamber.

The Senate parliamentarian, Elizabeth MacDonough, has ruled doing this would violate the Byrd rule—which blocks measures not directly related to the budget being passed through reconciliation.

Democrats are moving forward with President Joe Biden's COVID-19 relief plans using budget reconciliation, which could allow them to pass without garnering Republican support, and had intended to put the increase alongside those proposals.

However, the Senate parliamentarian's ruling on the measure to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour has indicated the limits of what can be pushed through this means.

Sinema had previously said she did not think reconciliation was the appropriate way forward on this point.

"The minimum wage provision is not appropriate for the reconciliation process," she told Politico earlier this month. "It is not a budget item, and it shouldn't be in there."

Manchin similarly said he did not think the COVID bill "is the place" for a minimum wage rise, in an interview with The Washington Examiner. He also previously said he would fight to "defend the Byrd rule."

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki indicated that the administration will respect the Senate parliamentarian's advice, in a statement on the ruling.

"President Biden is disappointed in this outcome, as he proposed having the $15 minimum wage as part of the American Rescue Plan," Psaki said.

"He respects the parliamentarian's decision and the Senate's process. He will work with leaders in Congress to determine the best path forward because no one in this country should work full time and live in poverty."

The statement concluded with a call for Congress to "move quickly" to pass COVID-19 relief.

"He urges Congress to move quickly to pass the American Rescue Plan, which includes $1400 rescue checks for most Americans, funding to get this virus under control, aid to get our schools reopened and desperately needed help for the people who have been hardest hit by this crisis," Psaki said.

This statement highlighting Biden's respect for the ruling comes after White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain said earlier this week that the administration would not look to overrule the Senate parliamentarian. This comment came amid suggestions that Vice President Kamala Harris could use her power to do so. Progressives have touted this as a course of action.

Klain said that while Biden wants a $15 an hour minimum wage, if it was ruled out of order for the reconciliation bill they would have to look for "other ways to get it done."

Biden himself had previously said he did not think Senate rules would allow the measure to remain in the bill through the reconciliation process. He suggested that this minimum wage increase could be looked at in a standalone bill.

Newsweek has contacted Manchin's office, Sinema's office and the White House for comment.

joe manchin at us capitol
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) arrives at the U.S. Capitol on February 11, 2021 in Washington, D.C. He had previously questioned whether the minimum wage increase could be passed through reconciliation. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images