Rep. Primala Jayapal gave a powerful argument for the Senate to overrule the parliamentarian and include the “wildly popular” and “urgent” $15 minimum wage in the COVID relief bill: “How can you manage anything on $12,000 a year?”
February 27, 2021

Jayapal appeared on The Cross Connection after the House approved the COVID relief bill with the minimum wage provision. She noted that the same Florida voters who went for Trump in November voted in a supermajority for a $15 minimum wage. She said that 27 million Americans would get a raise, including 30% of Black workers, 26% of Latino workers and 60% or more of women workers.

“So, this is a critically important issue for us to deliver on because voters trusted us,” Jayapal continued. “They said, ‘listen, if we give you the House, the Senate, and the White House, then you're telling us you can deliver on this,’ and we are going to have to deliver.”

Jayapal called the ruling of the Senate parliamentarian against including the minimum wage hike in the COVID relief bill “advisory,” only. She said then-Vice President Hubert Humphrey disregarded such a ruling twice and then-Vice President Nelson Rockefeller did so once. “So, this is urgent and I believe the Senate should include it,” she added. She thought the bill would pass despite the reservations of Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema and despite any Republican opposition because “that is the reality of how popular this minimum wage hike is.”

Then she made her plea.

JAYAPAL: We just have to muscle it through. I really believe that because we can't go back to voters in two years and say, “You know what? We made you a promise, you delivered us the House, the White House and the Senate, but a parliamentarian told us we can't do it. Democrats have to go to the mat here and really fight for this.


President Biden came out strong on the $15 minimum wage and including it in the rescue package early on, but obviously he's somebody who's a creature of the Senate, and I think this idea of disregarding an advisory opinion from the parliamentarian is not near and dear to his heart. But I will just say these are unprecedented times, and if you want to really take on racial inequality and wealth inequality, as the president has said that he wants to do, then we have to lift the floor for 27 million workers. The sky is not going to fall down if we increase the minimum wage. The floor is going to be lifted up.

Even if the measure fails in the Senate, Jayapal promised to fight on: “We've made it clear this is a top priority for progressives, and we're going to continue to push for it,” she said.

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