Wednesday , September 29 2021

With Demise of Wage Increase, Biden and Democrats Face Progressive Ire

Others fault the Senate parliamentarian, Elizabeth MacDonough, for her guidance, questioning why she would reject the provision when she has allowed other seemingly unrelated initiatives with less effect on the budget in previous reconciliation bills, including language that allowed drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in the 2017 Republican tax plan.

Mr. Biden may also have been thinking about the fact that a crucial centrist Democrat, Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, had announced his opposition to the wage hike, a problem that grew only more insurmountable when a second Democrat, Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, said soon after that she also did not favor including it in the stimulus plan.

Still, when Ms. MacDonough advised lawmakers last week that she considered the wage hike out of bounds for a reconciliation measure, liberal activists swiftly began applying pressure. They demanded that Democrats reject the ruling and abolish the 60-vote filibuster threshold that had prompted them to turn to the reconciliation process in the first place. Leading progressives, including Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, have been vocal in urging Democrats to consider such moves.

Democrats are determined to highlight the positive aspects of the stimulus measure, encouraging rank-and-file lawmakers to discuss them on Friday during a so-called day of action in the House.

“It’s their job to fight for as much as they can get, and I share their disappointment,” Senator Brian Schatz, Democrat of Hawaii, said of progressives frustrated about the minimum wage. But, ticking off a list of priorities in the measure — including eviction funding and some of the most aggressive federal action to reduce child poverty — he added, “These are long-term policy objectives, and they’re all in this package.”

Still, the tensions are likely to linger beyond the stimulus measure and fuel the debate among Democrats about whether to do away with filibusters altogether to secure their most ambitious priorities. Mr. Manchin has consistently said he would not go along with such a move, which would require every Democrat, the Senate’s two liberal-leaning independents and Ms. Harris to unite to force a change in the rules.

“Never!” Mr. Manchin bellowed at reporters on Monday as they made their latest inquiries about the prospect of ending the filibuster. “What don’t you understand about ‘never’?”

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