Radical left politicians like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Bernie Sanders have been pushing to add a $15 minimum wage provision to the massive $1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus package, which failed during the process on a vote of 58-42. The vote counted seven Democrats, one independent, and all 50 Republicans against the minimum wage hike.
The eight Democrats who voted against the provisions included: Sens. Joe Manchin, Kyrsten Sinema, Jeanne Shaheen, Maggie Hassan, Jon Tester, Tom Carper, and Chris Coons. Angus King, who is an independent, has caucused with the Democrats since joining the Senate in 2013.
Sen. Manchin said he argued against the wage proposal because it never belonged in the stimulus bill in the first place. He said the Senate rules set for the COVID-19 relief package were to target where help is needed, such as getting school funding and aid to people on the front line. He said “not one senator” does not want to raise the minimum wage, but that lawmakers like AOC didn’t understand what the relief package was for.
“They made a big issue about this, and I understand everyone has the right. I respect where she’s coming from, I respect her input. We have a little different approach. We come from two different areas of the country that have different social and cultural needs,” Sen. Manchin said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, who has also been criticized for voting against the measure, talked about her concerns regarding getting rid of the special “tipped wage” altogether. She said the restaurant industry already had so many closing during the pandemic and suggested that the wage raise would result in more closings.
Restaurant owners talked about having to not only raise the wages of employees who have worked for them for years but also for every entry-level employee, which would force owners to lay off some of their workers. In a webinar called “The Faces of a $15 Minimum Wage” by Betsy LeRoy, owner of Pizza by Elizabeths, she wrote that the increase of more than 400% would be a ‘death knell’ for the industry.
Sen. Manchin also suggested the federal minimum wage be set at $11, a level that would allow full-time workers to live above the federal poverty line. “It should be the respect of the dignity of work, always being about the minimum wage of what the guidelines for poverty is, and being able to lift yourself way far above that, by your skill sets and your determination,” Sen. Manchin said.
It is not the time to put small businesses in a bad situation, especially when the economy is trying to recover. A national minimum wage never made economic sense in the first place, only costing jobs in poorer states and putting more businesses out of business.