A key official in the US Senate has opposed a minimum wage increase in President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion relief plan, according to reports on Thursday.
Senate parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough, a non-partisan arbiter of Senate, ruled against including a minimum federal wage increase in the plan, which aims to gradually see $15 per hour by 2025, from $7.25 in place since 2009.
MacDonough’s role includes the interpretation of procedures in the upper chamber. The Senate parliamentarian position was created during the 1930s.
While MacDonough was appointed to her office in 2012 by then-Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat from Nevada, she also provided advice during the two impeachment trials of former President Donald Trump.
The White House quickly responded to MacDonough’s ruling by saying: “President Biden is disappointed in this outcome, as he proposed having the $15 minimum wage as part of the American Rescue Plan.”
“He respects the parliamentarian’s decision and the Senate’s process,” the White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement.
MacDonough’s ruling could turn out to be a major blow to hopes of additional stimulus for the ailing economy via wage support.
Her ruling, on the other hand, could also make it easier to pass the bill from the Senate as Republicans have been opposing Democrats’ wage increase demand.
In the private sector, Costco, the second-largest retailer in the world after Walmart, will raise its minimum wage to $16 per hour, Costco CEO Craig Jelinek announced Thursday at a Senate Budget Committee hearing.
Jelinek also noted that the average wage for hourly workers in Costco is around $24 an hour.
Among other American retailers, Target raised the minimum wage to $15 an hour in July 2020, while Best Buy increased it to the same level in August last year.
With a new directive from Biden last month, laid-off workers in the US will now be allowed to turn down jobs if they think are too risky due to COVID-19, and they can continue to collect pandemic unemployment assistance, according to new guidance issued by the Department of Labor on Thursday.
“Today’s guidance opens the door to relief for workers who have faced difficult, if not impossible, choices between accepting employment in an unsafe workplace to receive a steady source of income, and protecting their health and that of their loved ones,” Patricia Smith, senior advisor to the secretary of labor, said in a statement.
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