Progressives Confident $15 Minimum Wage Will Pass as House Readies to Push Through Stimulus

Progressive Democrats on Sunday expressed confidence that the $15 minimum wage increase will remain in President Joe Biden's stimulus package, as the House gears up to push through the $1.9 trillion relief measure this week.

In an interview on CNN's State of the Union, Representative Pramila Jayapal of Washington, chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told host Dana Bash that she believes the $15 minimum wage proposal will be included in the stimulus package. "It's absolutely essential and I believe the Senate will do it," she said.

"I know there are questions about whether or not the Senate can get it through. But I can tell you, Dana, this $15 minimum wage increase would mean 30 million Americans would get a raise. A million Americans would come out of poverty, and 30 percent of those minimum wage workers are Black; 25 percent are Latinx," Jayapal continued.

Asked whether she would support the bill sans the minimum wage hike, Jayapal said: "I think it's going to be included so I don't think we're going to have to make that decision."

Pramila Jayapal in the lower chmaber
Representative Pramila Jayapal, a Democrat from Washington, speaks during a House Judiciary Committee hearing December 12, 2019 in Washington, DC. Alex Edelman/Getty

California Representative Ro Khanna called the minimum wage increase "very reasonable" in a separate appearance on CNN's Inside Politics.

Independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, chair of the Senate Budget Committee, on Sunday reiterated his confidence that Senate Democrats could approve the wage hike through the budget process called reconciliation. "I'm very proud of the strong arguments our legal team is making to the parliamentarian that raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour is not 'incidental' to the federal budget and is permissible under the rules of reconciliation," he told CNN Saturday.

Democrats have paved the way for a vote that will allow the plan to pass without adjustments to accommodate congressional Republicans who oppose its high price tag.

But Elizabeth MacDonough, the Senate official who implements the Byrd Rule, still has to decide whether the minimum wage increase can fall under reconciliation. If the parliamentarian says it doesn't, Democrats would need to find 60 votes to bypass the rule and it's unlikely that they would be able to convince enough Republicans to back the measure.

After a week off following the conclusion of former President Donald Trump's impeachment trial, both the House and Senate will return on Monday to resume working on the package. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Representative Ted Lieu of California have both signaled that the legislation will pass the House this week.

Biden said last Friday that he's "open" to hearing ideas from the GOP on "how to make the package better and make it cheaper." As it stands, the package is unlikely to garner any support from Republicans, who have called on Democrats to resume negotiations toward a bipartisan deal. But with Pelosi's timeline and growing pressure from Americans struggling under the pandemic, it's unclear whether there will be time for further talks.

Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, two moderate Democrats, have both strongly opposed the $15 minimum wage.

Newsweek reached out to Manchin and Sinema's offices for comment.