White House: Minimum wage hike is in the hands of Congress

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White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday that Congress will ultimately determine whether lawmakers can increase the federal minimum wage to $15-per-hour through the budget process.

“[President Biden is] committed to raising the minimum wage. He thinks it’s an important step for American workers and for American families,” Ms. Psaki told reporters at the White House. “There’s obviously a process that’s ongoing…that will make some determinations about what can and cannot be in the bill based on rules.”

Ms. Psaki had been asked whether Mr. Biden was willing to jettison the minimum wage hike in his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package to get something across the finish line.

The minimum wage increase in the package has generated arguably the most criticism from Republicans and moderate Democrats like Sen. Joe Manchin of Virginia have been hesitant to embrace it as well.

Congressional Democrats are leveraging a fast-track budget tool to press forward that will allow them to pass parts of the package without Republican support.

The tool, known as reconciliation, limits what can be in the bill and the Senate parliamentarian will ultimately determine whether something like the minimum wage hike will pass muster.

Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont, who chairs the Senate Budget Committee, has indicated he believes Democrats can pass a minimum wage hike through reconciliation – a view that is disputed by other Senate process and budget experts.

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