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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

Go deeper

Feb 11, 2021 - Podcasts

The fight over the Fight for $15

The federal minimum wage has been $7.25 per hour since 2009, which works out to just about $15,000 per year at 40-hour weeks, without any vacation days. Congress is now debating an increase to $15 per hour as part of the next round of economic stimulus, but there is plenty of opposition.

Axios Re:Cap digs into the economics and politics of the federal minimum wage, on which it seems everyone has an opinion.

Focus group: $15 minimum wage is a flop with swing voters

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Some swing voters have deep reservations about raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, worried that the impacts on employers or inflation may outweigh benefits to individual workers.

Why it matters: President Biden and most congressional Democrats support the increase and favor its inclusion in the next coronavirus stimulus. But Biden said last week it may face too much resistance to make it into this round. These voters who switched from Donald Trump in 2016 to Biden in 2020 help explain why.

CBO: Federal government's debt on track to exceed size of U.S. economy

President Biden. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The federal government's total debt is expected to exceed the size of the U.S. economy this year, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said Thursday.

Why it matters: The projection doesn't include President Biden's proposed $1.9 trillion economic stimulus package and could reignite pushback from Republicans who'd prefer a smaller bill.