Joe Manchin Stands by Senate Parliamentarian in New Showdown With Furious Progressives

Senate parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough ruled on Thursday against including the $15 minimum wage increase in President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion stimulus bill, which has created a new showdown between progressive Democrats and Senator Joe Manchin.

Democrats pushed for the minimum wage increase in the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, using budget reconciliation, which allows the bill to be passed without any Republican support, but MacDonough ruled that increasing the federal minimum wage violated the Byrd Rule. The Byrd Rule prohibits including "extraneous" measures in the budget being passed through reconciliation.

Shortly after MacDonough's ruling, a number of progressives called for the White House to overrule the decision and include the minimum wage increase in the bill.

"The Senate parliamentarian issues an advisory opinion. The VP can overrule them—as has been done before," Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal wrote in a tweet on Thursday. "We should do EVERYTHING we can to keep our promise, deliver a $15 minimum wage, and give 27 million workers a raise."

The Senate parliamentarian issues an advisory opinion. The VP can overrule them—as has been done before.

We should do EVERYTHING we can to keep our promise, deliver a $15 minimum wage, and give 27 million workers a raise.

— Pramila Jayapal (@PramilaJayapal) February 25, 2021

While speaking with Rachel Maddow on MSNBC, Jayapayl reiterated her comments, saying, "The parliamentarian issues an advisory opinion. Once the parliamentarian issues that advisory opinion, it is up to the chair of the Senate to decide whether or not to incorporate that opinion."

California Rep. Ro Khanna made similar comments, writing in a tweet the parliamentarian's ruling "is an advisory, not a ruling."

"I'm sorry—an unelected parliamentarian does not get to deprive 32 million Americans the raise they deserve," Khanna wrote in a tweet on Thursday. "VP Harris needs to disregard and rule a $15 minimum wage in order."

I’m sorry—an unelected parliamentarian does not get to deprive 32 million Americans the raise they deserve.

This is an advisory, not a ruling. VP Harris needs to disregard and rule a $15 minimum wage in order.

We were elected to deliver for the people. It’s time we do our job. https://t.co/rraVhT5GV7

— Ro Khanna (@RoKhanna) February 26, 2021

Newsweek reached out to Jayapal and Khanna for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.

Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar called to "replace the parliamentarian," adding, "What's a Democratic majority if we can't pass our priority bills? This is unacceptable."

Newsweek was directed to Omar's tweet after reaching out to her office for comment.

Joe Manchin
Senator Joe Manchin speaks at the confirmation hearing for Rep. Deb Haaland, nominee for Secretary of the Interior, on February 24, on Capitol Hill. Manchin has expressed his opposition to the $15 minimum wage increase. Pool/Getty

Despite the calls from progressives, West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, who has continued to show his power as a moderate Democrat in the split Senate, has expressed his opposition to the $15 minimum wage increase and overruling the parliamentarian.

Manchin has previously said that he will not support the $15 minimum wage increase but was willing to consider a smaller increase.

While speaking with CNN last week, Manchin said, "My only vote is to protect the Byrd Rule: hell or high water," further indicating his opposition to including the federal minimum wage increase in the stimulus bill.

"Everybody knows that. I'm fighting to defend the Byrd Rule. The president knows that," Manchin added.

Newsweek reached out to Manchin for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.

Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema, has also expressed opposition to the federal minimum wage increase, stating in an interview with Politico that it "is not appropriate for the reconciliation process."

Like Manchin, Sinema is a key vote for Democrats in the 50–50 Senate.

Despite the calls from progressives, the White House has already announced that Biden will "respect" the parliamentarian's decision.

"President Biden is disappointed in this outcome, as he proposed having the $15 minimum wage as part of the American Rescue Plan," White House press secretary Jen Psaki wrote in a statement. "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."