Will Congress Okay the $15 Minimum Wage Increase?

Advocacy groups are pressuring the Biden administration to boost the hourly pay scale to $15. They have pinned their hopes on President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief package, designed to alleviate the fallout of the pandemic that hit the United States last year. But will Congress pass the motion to set the federal minimum wage at $15? Experts are doubtful.

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President Joe Biden has already admitted that the wage increase will probably be cut out from his Covid-19 relief package owing to some opposition from the senate.

If the wage increase gets cut out of the Covid-19 relief package, Biden would have to work it into a separate piece of legislation which would require 60 votes in the Senate to overcome a filibuster and become law. Given that the Senate is currently a 50-50 partisan split, getting 60 votes seems unlikely.

In the face of this uncertainty, activists championing the $15 minimum wage increase are calling, texting, and writing to their senators. They demand that the wage increase provision remains in the relief bill, as they see no other way forward. A $15 minimum wage will significantly boost living conditions for low-wage earners, but the provision has its fair share of opponents. People who oppose it mainly contend that it will allow businesses to cut down on jobs and thus hurt low-wage workers. Earlier this month, a Congressional Budget Office report estimated the wage increase could result in the loss of about 1.4 million jobs. This estimate makes it a particularly contentious part of the Covid-19 relief package.

Though the history of Congress passing legislation that raises the federal minimum wage is discouraging, many Americans have often overwhelmingly favored an increase. This feeling of desperation and urgency has been heightened after the pandemic. Covid-19 has disproportionately affected Black and Hispanic essential workers and minimum wage earners. These workers are also dying from Covid-19 at much higher rates. Many activists believe that the Covid-19 relief package must address the job loss and financial setbacks of American workers. They intend on holding Biden to his campaign promises to raise the minimum wage