Pramila Jayapal Rallies Democrats After Joe Manchin Rejects $15 Minimum Wage

Rep. Pramila Jayapal has called on fellow Democrats to "fight with everything we've got" to keep the $15 minimum wage bill in the COVID-relief package.

The chance of the bill making it through the Senate, which is split 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans, is seen as slim afer centrists in the party expressed skepticism and Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) publicly said he opposed the legislation.

Speaking on The Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC, Rep. Jayapal shared details of the fight to see the minimum wage proposal included in the $1.9 trillion relief plan.

"This has been such a big priority for progressives for a decade, led by fast-food workers across this country," she said.

"Over the weekend, we were starting to hear all the reasons why we shouldn't put $15 into the bill and, frankly, we had to push back very, very hard. And we were able to work with leadership, with the chairman of the education and labour committees. Yesterday there was no $15 bill in the education and labour mark-up and today there is."

Raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 is a keystone policy for progressive Democrats, such as Rep. Jayapal, who oversaw its implementation in Seattle in 2014, and has led calls for it to become federal law.

A Congressional Budget Office report on Sunday estimated a $15 minimum wage would lift one million Americans out of poverty, but cost 1.4 million jobs and add $54 billion to the national deficit over the next ten years.

Rep. Jayapal claimed there were a number of positive aspects to the bill.

"What does that mean?" Rep. Jayapal said. "$330 billion in wages will flow to workers over the next ten years, 27 million workers will get a raise and one million workers will be lifted out of poverty. This is a core important issue and structural reform that will also persist past COVID, so it is one of the most important things we can do."

"Yesterday there was no $15 bill in the Education and Labor mark-up and today, Rachel, there is." Rep. Jayapal discusses the effort by the Progressive Caucus to keep a $15 minimum wage in the next the Covid relief package.

— Maddow Blog (@MaddowBlog) February 9, 2021

She expressed happiness at seeing the bill included in the relief plan, and stressed the fight was not over.

"I've just got to smile from ear to ear, but I want to make sure people understand we've got to get it across the finish line. It's got to stay in the bill, the thresholds have to stay in the bill all the way through the house and then into the Senate, and Democrats have to fight. We have to fight with everything we've got for these progressive bold ideas that are going to bring relief to people."

President Joe Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and House Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth (D-KY) have all also indicated they don't think the bill will make it into law.

"I put it in but I don't think its going to survive," Biden told CBS' Norah O'Donnell. "My guess is it will not be in [the stimulus bill]."

An amendment opposed to an immediate hike in the minimum wage, put forward by Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), passed a Senate vote on Thursday as lawmakers voted on amendments to a resolution on budget reconciliation.

Representative Pramila Jayapal at House Antitrust Subcommittee
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) looks on during the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law hearing on Online Platforms and Market Power in the Rayburn House office Building on July 29, 2020 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Rep. Jayapal has led calls for an increase in the national minimum wage from $7.25 to $15. Graeme Jennings-Pool/Getty