Updated: February 26, 2021
President Joseph R. Biden Jr. remains “firmly committed” to raising the minimum wage to $15, White House Press Secretary, Jen Psaki, said on Monday, just days after the president expressed doubts the measure will be included in the final package of his $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan.
Mr. Biden revealed in an interview on Friday that although he had the measure included in his bill, he did not think it was “going to survive” and be included in the final package.
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Most Democrats are in favor of raising the minimum wage to $15, but centrist Democrats, like Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, have publicly said they will not support the raise in the COVID-19 bill.
With Democrats and Republicans splitting the Senate equally, President Biden cannot afford to lose one Democrat if he wants to get his COVID-19 relief bill passed.
“The President remains firmly committed to raising the minimum wage to $15; that’s why he put it in his first legislative proposal,” Psaki said at her White House press briefing on Monday. “And he believes that any American who is working a full-time job, trying to make ends meet, should not be at the poverty level. And it’s important to him that the minimum wage is raised.”
Psaki said the minimum wage was not dead yet, and could still pass, after final determination by Congress.
“At this point in time, it’s still working its way through the process in Congress. And the parliamentarians still have to make a determination about what will be in a final package,” Psaki added.
“The president remains committed to raising the minimum wage. It’s something he talked about on the campaign trail, something he firmly believes in as a person and as a leader, but there hasn’t been a determination made at this point in time,” explained Psaki when asked about further steps to raise the minimum wage.
Asked about the Congressional Budget Office’s study on the impact of a $15 minimum wage, Press Secretary Psaki responded: “I heard about the CBO score as I was walking out here, so I haven’t talked with our economic team about that specifically.”
The CBO study, which was released Monday, concluded that raising the minimum wage to $15 would increase wages for at least 17 million people and lift 900,000 out of poverty, but would also put 1.4 million Americans out of work.