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UPDATE – $15 Minimum Wage to Be Excluded from COVID-19 Relief Bill

March 2, 2021

Originally published in the Connecticut Law Tribune on March 2, 2021

As we wrote last week, President Biden, Senator Bernie Sanders and the majority of the Democrats wanted to incorporate a $15 per hour national minimum wage into the proposed $1.9 trillion COVID-19 Relief Bill (the “COVID-19 Relief Bill”). To accomplish this, the Democrats proposed a procedural shortcut known as budget reconciliation. The strategy failed. 

Budget reconciliation allows for a bill to pass through the Senate with a simple majority vote and restricts opponents’ use of a filibuster to hold the bill up. However, only bills impacting spending, taxes or debt are eligible for the reconciliation process.  Any bill seeking passage through the budget reconciliation process must first be deemed eligible by the Senate Parliamentarian.

Unfortunately for proponents of the $15 per hour national minimum wage, the Senate Parliamentarian ruled on Thursday, February 25th that the $15 minimum wage provisions were not appropriate for the budget reconciliation process.

This left Democrats with one of two options: either drop the $15 minimum wage initiative from the COVID-19 Relief Bill or abandon the reconciliation process. While the second option was preferred, it required a filibuster proof 60-vote majority in the Senate. The choice was clear, and the $15 minimum wage provisions were dropped for the greater good of getting the bill passed.

We are confident this will not be the last attempt by the Democrats to secure a $15 per hour national minimum wage. However, as we wrote previously, this was the best chance the Democrats had to secure passage at least until the midterm elections.

Robert G. Brody is Founder and Managing Member and Mark J. Taglia is Counsel at the law firm Brody and Associates, LLC, RBrody@brodyandassociates.com and MTaglia@brodyandassociates.com

Brody and Associates, LLC represents management in employment and labor law matters and has offices in Westport, CT and New York, NY.  For more information contact us at (203) 965-0560.