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Progressive caucus chair: I think $15 minimum wage will be included in COVID-19 aid package

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said Sunday that she believes the Senate parliamentarian will allow a provision that would increase the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour to remain in the upcoming COVID-19 relief package.

Jayapal told CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union” that she was in regular conversations with both Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the Senate Budget Committee chairman, about whether the provision would be struck from the relief package under rules governing what can be passed through the budget reconciliation process, which would allow Democrats to pass the bill through the Senate without GOP support.

“I have been speaking with Sen. Sanders pretty regularly, with Speaker Pelosi, with the White House,” Jayapal said. “If Republicans could give a $2 trillion tax break to the wealthiest people and stop Arctic drilling, then — or continue drilling in the Arctic — then I think that Democrats can make sure that 30 million Americans get a raise [through the reconciliation process].”

When asked if she would still vote for the $1.9 trillion package if the provision to raise the minimum wage was struck from the proposal, Jayapal responded, “I think it’s going to be included, so I don’t think we’re going to have to make that decision.”

Her remarks are the latest sign that progressives plan to battle with more centrist members of their party, including Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), over the minimum wage issue. The White House has indicated it does not believe the provision will be included in the final COVID-19 relief bill due to parliamentary rules. It was included in the package unveiled by the House last week, and if it survives the Senate parliamentarian’s ruling, it could set up a battle within the Democratic caucus to secure the votes to pass the package without any Republican votes in the Senate.

Along with the minimum wage provision, the bill also would issue another round of direct payments to singe Americans making up to $75,000 per year and married couples making up to $150,000 per year, extend unemployment benefits, and provide billions in aid to state and local governments for COVID-19 management efforts.

Tags Bernie Sanders Dana Bash Joe Manchin Nancy Pelosi Pramila Jayapal

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