Senate Referee Shoots Down Minimum Wage Increase, Now Some Democrats Want Her Fired

Illustration for article titled Senate Referee Shoots Down Minimum Wage Increase, Now Some Democrats Want Her Fired
Photo: Samuel Corum (Getty Images)

Let’s play a game, shall we?

Can anyone tell me what the minimum wage was in 2009? How about 2011? What about 2015?

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If you guessed slave wages, you are right.

For the past 12 years the minimum wage has been $7.25. That’s it. For perspective I’d like to add that in 2009, “Boom Boom Pow” by the Black Eyed Peas was the No. 1 song. Avatar was the hot shit when it came to movies and Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) was the Senate Minority Leader.

America is ghetto; it’s embarrassing.

So Democrats were trying to make things right by pushing a minimum wage increase in the COVID-19 relief bill and Republicans hated that, mostly because Republicans love to keep people poor. Now, in order to fast track the COVID relief bill, Dems are using budget reconciliation, which has a number of rules for what can and can’t be included in the package.

So a referee was called in and that ref is the unelected and nonpartisan Senate parliamentarian, Elizabeth MacDonough. MacDonough ruled Thursday that the barely living wage of $15-an-hour cannot be fast tracked in the stimulus bill.

And now some Democrats are calling for her ass to be fired.

“Abolish the filibuster. Replace the parliamentarian,” Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) said in a tweet Thursday. “What’s a Democratic majority if we can’t pass our priority bills? This is unacceptable.”

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But the Biden administration, being the soft mound of cheese that they are, noted that they were disappointed but will move on, allowing a large swath of Americans to continue to scrape by on $7.25 an hour.

According to the Washington Post, it’s not as if Omar’s suggestion is that radical. Sure it was some 20 years ago but Republicans fired a parliamentarian who was against an ambitious tax cutting plan.

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Here is how the Post explains the role of the parliamentarian:

Parliamentarians are essentially the umpires of the Senate, ensuring that lawmakers follow the rules that govern how legislation moves forward. In recent years, the most difficult calls have involved bills passed through budget reconciliation, which allows the Senate to end debate and call a vote with the support of a simple majority. MacDonough has struck prohibited measures from those bills several times, confounding both Republicans and Democrats.

Parliamentarians often serve for decades and span multiple presidencies. Only six people have served in the role since its inception in 1935, and MacDonough, an independent and the first woman to serve as Senate parliamentarian, has been in the position since 2012.

MacDonough earned her degrees from George Washington University and Vermont Law School. She began working as an assistant parliamentarian for the Senate in 1999 before eventually being appointed by a Democrat to replace her predecessor after he retired in 2012. She has played a critical role in refereeing Republican attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act and unsuccessfully tried to dissuade Democrats from barring filibusters during most confirmation hearings for presidential appointees.

Generally, the parliamentarian’s rulings are respected by whichever party is in power.

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Yeah, but fuck all that. I agree with Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), who tweeted Thursday:

“The Senate parliamentarian issues an advisory opinion. The VP can overrule them — as has been done before. We should do EVERYTHING we can to keep our promise, deliver a $15 minimum wage, and give 27 million workers a raise.”

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) ain’t trying to hear that shit and has already “vowed to pass a version of the stimulus package that still included the minimum-wage increase on Friday,” the Post reports.

“I will be working with my colleagues in the Senate to move forward with an amendment to take tax deductions away from large, profitable corporations that don’t pay workers at least $15 an hour and to provide small businesses with the incentives they need to raise wages,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said in a statement, the Post reports. “That amendment must be included in this reconciliation bill.”

Senior Editor @ The Root, boxes outside my weight class, when they go low, you go lower.

DISCUSSION

We should do EVERYTHING we can to keep our promise, deliver a $15 minimum wage, and give 27 million workers a raise.

Great idea. How about getting off of Twitter and writing a standalone bill?