Min wage provision threatens success of COVID relief bill


WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — The U.S. House is poised to pass Democrats’ $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill but one controversial provision is putting the entire package in jeopardy.

Rep. Susie Lee (D-NV) said the sweeping emergency legislation is desperately needed to stop the spread of the coronavirus and help the economy.

“We are in a crisis in this country,” said Lee, who added the bill will get “vaccines out and into the arms of the American people, funding for state and local governments.”

House Democrats said they’re pushing forward and including a controversial provision to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is confident the House will pass the provision.

“I think from a policy point of view, it is very hard to defend a federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour — that is a starvation wage,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT).

But the provision is likely doomed in the Senate.

“I think the minimum wage is something that is particularly troubling and harmful at a time when you’re trying to get people back to work, you’re trying to create jobs again. Because it drives up the cost of hiring people,” said Sen. John Thune (R-SD).

Republicans like Thune aren’t the only lawmakers who are against the jump to $15 an hour. Moderate Democrats like West Virginia’s Joe Manchin and Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema expressed opposition, too. Manchin said if a minimum wage hike is included in the emergency relief package, it should be to $11 an hour.

The COVID relief bill will likely need every Democratic senator’s support in order to pass.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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