Pelosi Commits to Minimum-Wage Hike, But Without a Timetable

Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House will try again to pass a hike in the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour but offered no timetable or strategy for getting it through the Senate, where it faces opposition from some Democrats as well as Republicans.

“We will persist with the minimum wage,” Pelosi said at a news conference Thursday.

But afterward, she indicated there wasn’t yet a clear path forward. “We’ll see how we go,” she told reporters. “We’ll take it one measure at a time,” she said. “We have to raise it.”

An attempt to increase the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 by 2025 as part of the $1.9 trillion stimulus bill fell short in the Senate last week, when eight Democratic caucus members voted against waiving Senate rules to include the provision in the package.

Democratic Senators Kyrsten Sinema, Joe Manchin, Jon Tester, Jeanne Shaheen, Maggie Hassan, Tom Carper and Chris Coons as well as independent Angus King voted against including the provision.

Republican Idea

Manchin later predicted that some sort of deal with Republicans can be struck. He has advocated raising the wage to $11 per hour. A group of Republicans led by Utah’s Mitt Romney and Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton has floated a plan to gradually raise the rate to $10 per hour, but it would require all businesses to verify the immigration status of their workers.

Progressives in Pelosi’s caucus said they felt able to vote for the stimulus bill on Wednesday in part because they were promised that the fight to raise the minimum wage would continue.

The House passed a stand-alone minimum wage increase in 2019, and President Joe Biden urged Congress to send him a bill after the measure was stripped from the Covid-19 package. The Democrats’ proposal would also raise the tipped wage and youth wage.

Democratic Representative Ro Khanna, a member of the progressive caucus, said Thursday that Democrats could try to attach a minimum-wage increase to the annual defense-policy bill, which is considered must-pass legislation. But House Armed Services Committee Chair Adam Smith said he had not heard of the idea and wouldn’t commit to the tactic.

Pelosi, asked whether she would attach a wage hike to a spending bill needed to keep the government open after Oct. 1, said she didn’t yet know.

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