Democrats failed to get anywhere near a united front on a $15 minimum wage, suggesting the measure is doomed for now

  • Senate Democrats were unable to agree on a proposed minimum wage increase, reports said.
  • Many — including the White House — support a $15 an hour federal minimum.
  • But several Senate Democrats oppose it, presenting a seemingly impassable obstacle.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Senate Democrats were unable to reach an agreement on how best to overcome their differences and push forward with proposals to raise the federal minimum wage, according to reports Tuesday. 

A meeting was convened by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Tuesday, reported Politico and the Punch Bowl politics newsletter.

It was said to include 8 moderate Democratic senators who opposed a push led by Sen. Bernie Sanders to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour. It is currently $7.25 an hour.

Sanders was also there, along with others from the progressive wing of the party’s Senate caucus, according to the report. 

Democrats suffered a defeat on the $15 wage earlier in March, when a Senate official ruled that it could not be part of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus bill.

The Senate Parliamentarian — a nonpartisan official — said that a minimum wage hike was beyond the scope of the stimulus package, which was being considered under a special mechanism called budget reconciliation, which allows bills to pass with fewer votes.

8 moderate Democrats subsequently voted against an attempt to have the minimum wage increase included again.

They argued that the bill would mean extra costs for businesses they can ill afford when they are struggling to recover from the impact of the pandemic. 

The meeting was an attempt to bridge the divide on the issue between Democrats, but Punch Bowl News, a Washington DC newsletter, reported that no breakthroughs were made Tuesday. 

According to the outlet, Sanders and Sen. Joe Manchin, an influential moderate from West Virginia, battled over the size of a proposed increase, with Sanders arguing for it to be increased to $15 and Manchin favoring $11. 

Another sticking point is what level the minimum wage should be for workers who get tips, like bar workers or servers in restaurants, according to Politico. 

The impasse places the future of the minimum wage increase in question. The reports suggest the party has a long way to go before achieving consensus within its own ranks let alone mustering the 60 votes required to overcome a likely Republican filibuster. 

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