Democrats Move to Salvage Minimum Wage Hike



If Democrats cannot find a way to include the wage increase in the stimulus measure, the bill could lose support from progressives, although Ms. Pelosi said the House would “absolutely” pass the measure without the wage increase if needed.

“I don’t think we can go back to voters and say, ‘Look, I know Republicans, Democrats, independents support this; we promised it, but because of an unelected parliamentarian who gave us a ruling, we couldn’t do it,” Representative Pramila Jayapal, Democrat of Washington and the chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told reporters. “There’s a lot of great things in the package, but if it’s watered down, that’s a whole different issue. So we just have to see what it ends up as.”

Democrats have embraced the overall stimulus package as critical for the economy. It would provide $1,400 direct payments to individuals earning up to $75,000 a year and couples earning up to $150,000, and expand a weekly federal unemployment benefit, increasing it to $400 a week from $300 and extending it through the end of August. It would also increase the value of the child tax credit; provide more than $50 billion for vaccine distribution, testing and tracing; and steer nearly $200 billion to primary and secondary schools and $350 billion to state, local and tribal governments.

The legislation, once it clears the House, will head to the Senate, where it is expected to be amended. It would then be sent back to the House for a final vote before going to the White House for Mr. Biden’s signature.

House Republicans were expected to oppose the legislation with few exceptions. They have argued that the plan is too costly and contains provisions that are unrelated to pandemic relief. And while members of their party used the reconciliation process twice in 2017 to steer around Democratic opposition to their highest priorities — once to push through a $1.5 trillion tax cut and once in a failed attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act — they complained that Democrats had cut them out of drafting the stimulus measure.

“This isn’t a relief bill,” said Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the Republican leader, at his weekly news conference. “It takes care of Democrats’ political allies, while it fails to deliver for American families.”

Like several Republicans on Capitol Hill, he wore a “No Pelosi Payout” sticker.

“We already know what is the best stimulus plan out there: It is to fully reopen our economy,” Mr. McCarthy said.


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