White House holds briefing as lawmakers await decision on $15 minimum wage

National Politics
Jen Psaki press secretary

White House press secretary Jen Psaki speaks during a press briefing at the White House, Monday, Jan. 25, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

While the White House stood by its desire to pass a minimum wage hike as part of a COVID-19 stimulus package if permitted, it did not detail plans to raise the minimum wage should a parliamentarian rule against the measure.

The original text of the bill calls for the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour — a number that hasn’t been raised since 2009 — to be raised to $15 an hour. However, there is a question as to whether that action is permissible in the bill as currently constructed.

In an attempt to get the bill passed quickly — and without the support of Republicans — Democrats have opted to use “Budget Reconciliation,” a streamlined process that allows budget bills to be passed with a simple majority vote. Other bills need the support of 60 senators in order to pass.

A parliamentarian is set to decide this week whether the $15 an hour minimum wage can be included in this bill under that process. President Joe Biden and Democrats have promised to abide by that decision.

Psaki said Thursday that the Biden administration still supports the passage of a minimum wage hike as part of the stimulus package, adding that it would not have been included in the bill if he didn’t. But she did not provide any promises to further pursue a minimum wage hike if the provision is removed from the bill, saying they’re still in the “stage” of getting stimulus passed.

The briefing also comes as the Biden administration is set to hold a ceremony commemorating the 50 million vaccine doses that have been distributed during Biden’s time in office.

The Biden administration has set a goal to administer 100 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines in their first 100 days in office — the administration seems well on its way of achieving that goal, reaching the halfway point after just 36 days in office.

Biden has received some criticism for setting the bar too low on vaccinations — the U.S. was already distributing an average of one million doses of vaccine a day by the time he took office on Jan. 20.

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