House progressives are strongly pushing to pass a $15 minimum wage now as they believe this moment is their best shot, and some are already signaling they are willing to withhold their votes if the final version of the Covid relief package does not include the provision.
As the window for negotiations closes, and it seems increasingly unlikely that the White House will concede to progressives by overruling the parliamentarian’s decision that the minimum wage increase should be kept out of the bill, the question becomes whether the smoke that progressives are blowing will turn into fully formed flames.
“We’re leaving it open,” said Progressive Caucus Chairwoman Pramila Jayapal, a Democrat from Washington state, when asked by CNN whether progressives are prepared to withhold their votes on the Covid package if the legislation returns to the House next week from the Senate without the minimum wage proposal included. “We’re going to see what the whole package looks like and then we’ll make a decision.”
Implying her finger on the pulse of the left wing of the party Jayapal added, “We’re really keeping everyone close and just making sure we’re checking in with people,” emphasizing that most still believe reconciliation is the best path to passing this proposal.
Freshman progressive Democratic Rep. Jamaal Bowman of New York told CNN, “I don’t know yet,” when asked if he was prepared to withhold his vote on the final version of the Covid relief package if a $15 minimum wage provision were not included. “I will cross that bridge when we get there.”
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Bowman, who was part of a group of House progressives and outside organizations that sent a letter to the White House pressuring them to overrule the Senate parliamentarian’s ruling that the provision could not be included in the Covid relief package, said that while he appreciates that the White House is listening, progressives should be more willing to pursue every option to get this measure passed.
“I feel like I’m being heard, but I’m frustrated by our lack of fight,” Bowman said. “As Democrats, we need to turn over every stone and use every provision within our power to fight for the American people.”
“The American people have to know that the Democrats are fighting for them. Republicans can be wrong and strong, but at least they’re seen as fighters. We need to be seen as fighters as well,” Bowman added.
Rep. Rashida Tlaib, a Michigan Democrat who’s an integral part of the four-member progressive “Squad,” told CNN she is weighing heavily whether to withhold her vote if the final version of the bill does not include a $15 minimum wage. Representing the third poorest district in the country, Tlaib claimed that not conceding on the minimum wage is what her constituents want.
“I definitely need to put my residents first,” Tlaib said. “This