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Rep. Pramila Jayapal. Photo: Mandel Ngan-Pool/Getty Images

Rep. Pramila Jayapal said Wednesday that when she feared a $15 minimum wage was about to be cut from President Biden's COVID relief package, she and her staff urged the White House to have progressives’ backs. Biden tweeted within the hour.

Why it matters: Former President Trump was famous for his use of Twitter, particularly to advance his own causes and beliefs, but now Democrats are enjoying a new bully pulpit to blast their narratives and policies to the masses.

Progressives believe that by successfully shaping a political narrative they can significantly influence policy — especially since some of their more moderate Democratic Senate colleagues like Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) have their own power to blunt momentum and key pieces of the left's agenda.

  • "We have been trying to be more deliberate about ... deciding what our asks are for any bill, early, and then distilling them to three or four or five key priorities for the Progressive Caucus," Jayapal said. "And we're trying to get better at sending out those talking points every week that people can message on."
  • Jayapal (D-Wash.) has been championing raising the federal minimum wage to $15 for years. In 2014, she was appointed to the Seattle mayor's income inequality task force, which put together a successful proposal to raise the minimum wage in the city that year.
  • The Congressional Progressive Caucus, which Jayapal leads, also made clear in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer last week that including the $15 minimum wage in the COVID package is non-negotiable.

What they're saying: Jayapal relayed the Twitter story Wednesday morning during a Congressional Progressive Caucus meeting. The Zoom call was joined by more than 140 members and staffers.

  • “I called the White House, our staff called the White House, and said, ‘We want the president to weigh in with a tweet about how essential it is to put $15 in the reconciliation package,’” she said.
  • The White House responded almost immediately, with a tweet from @POTUS: "It’s long past time we raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. The American Rescue Plan will get it done."

Sen. Bernie Sanders has been leading Senate efforts to include raising the federal minimum wage in the Biden package.

  • A person familiar with his approach told Axios that Sanders is pursuing an "inside-outside" strategy.
  • He wants to ensure it is included in the final package by engaging with the Senate parliamentarian, championing the measure during cable news interviews and joining Congressional Progressive Caucus calls to discuss the issue.

Go deeper

Feb 2, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Biden tells Senate Democrats that GOP coronavirus plan is "too small"

President Biden in the Oval Office. Photo: Anna Moneymaker-Pool/Getty Images

President Biden told Senate Democrats at a virtual lunch on Tuesday that Republicans' current $618 billion coronavirus relief proposal is "too small," but he wants to continue working toward a compromise and is willing to bend on the final price, a source on the call tells Axios.

Why it matters: Biden made clear he is not giving up on finding a bipartisan path to passing stimulus legislation, despite many Democrats urging him to use the budget reconciliation process to bypass the GOP. He also said that the White House has red lines that they're unwilling to budge on, including the salary minimums for receiving stimulus checks.

Feb 3, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Chamber warns Biden not to submit to progressive wish

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer talks about the Democrats' $1.9 trillion stimulus proposal Tuesday. Photo: Oliver Contreras/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is urging the Biden administration not to go around Republicans to pass the president’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package, a move being pushed by the Democrats’ progressive wing.

Why it matters: The historically conservative group fears that if President Biden submits, it could foil any shot at bipartisanship for future legislation, such as highly anticipated plans for infrastructure and climate change bills.

Biden's 100-day school goal smacks into reality

Joe Biden appears before the Iowa State Educators Association in January 2020. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Some White House political advisers are privately concerned President Biden may not be able to meet his goal to reopen schools within his first 100 days, yet the president himself remains committed to it, people familiar with the matter tell Axios.

Why it matters: The Republican Party has long struggled to maintain support from suburban voters, and it's betting parents fed up with homeschooling their kids because of COVID-19 will be turned off if Biden is seen as ignoring science or coddling unions. The GOP would portray any backtracking as a political win.