Feb 12, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Kyrsten Sinema says she's opposed to $15 minimum wage in COVID relief bill

Kyrsten Sinema

Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images/POOL

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) told Politico in an interview that she does not support increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour as part of the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package that Congress is considering.

Why it matters: Opposition to the $15 minimum wage provision from Sinema and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) — another moderate Democrat who has huge influence in a 50-50 Senate — is a major blow to President Biden's hope of passing it via budget reconciliation, which would allow the Senate to circumvent the usual 60-vote threshold.

  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the $15 minimum wage provision will be in the House bill that she intends to send to the Senate in the next two weeks.
  • But Biden himself acknowledged this week that the key campaign promise likely won't make it into the final rescue package passed by Congress. He said he would push for it in a standalone bill.

What they're saying: “What’s important is whether or not it’s directly related to short-term COVID relief. And if it’s not, then I am not going to support it in this legislation,” Sinema told Politico. “The minimum wage provision is not appropriate for the reconciliation process. It is not a budget item. And it shouldn’t be in there.”

The big picture: Sinema, like Manchin, is opposed to eliminating the 60-vote legislative filibuster to pass major progressive priorities. “I want to restore the 60-vote threshold for all elements of the Senate's work," the 44-year-old Arizona senator told Politico.

Go deeper: CBO says $15 minimum wage would increase unemployment but lift 900,000 out of poverty

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