Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said Sunday that he will continue to push for the federal minimum wage to be increased to $11 as part of the CCP virus stimulus package, down from the $15 per hour minimum proposed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).
The federal minimum wage must be “above the poverty guideline,” Manchin said in an interview with ABC News’s “This Week.”
The senator noted that the “base” should be at $11 an hour “so you have the respect and dignity of work.”
“And then we index it with inflation to make sure it never gets back in this political conundrum that we have right now,” he added. “It shouldn’t be a political football.”
In the days leading up to the vote on Biden’s COVID-19 stimulus proposal, Manchin, who holds a pivotal vote in the Senate Democrats’ slim majority, indicated he would not approve a minimum wage hike to $15 an hour.
On March 5, eight Democratic senators, including Manchin, joined Republicans in rejecting Sander’s proposal to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2025.
Sens. Manchin, Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), and Angus King (I-Maine) who caucuses with Democrats, opposed the measure, joining all Republicans in the upper chamber.
The final vote tally was 42–58, falling far short of the 60 votes needed to overrule the Senate parliamentarian’s decision that a minimum wage increase can’t be embedded in the broader COVID-19 stimulus bill to be passed by a simple majority vote.
Manchin previously said in an interview with The Hill that he doesn’t back the $15 wage hike. He said that he’d consider raising it to a figure that is “responsible and reasonable.” In his home state West Virginia, Manchin suggested that the minimum wage should be $11 an hour when adjusted for inflation.
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) meanwhile has proposed that firms with revenues of $1 billion or more should pay their employees a minimum of $15 an hour. He said the move would ensure that small businesses aren’t burdened by a wage hike mandate.
“For small businesses, for them to pay $15 an hour would be crushing, especially right now or in the near future,” Hawley told WGEM.
“I think big corporations, saying to them ‘Yeah you’ve go to pay $15’ and small businesses get exempted and can pay a little bit lower. That helps them stay in business, helps them be able to make a go of it.”
One-third of small-business owners indicated they would likely lay off workers if the minimum wage rises to $15 an hour, according to a recent survey by CNBC-SurveyMonkey.
The federally mandated minimum wage is currently $7.25, and has been since 2009.
Senate parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough ruled last month that the provision could not be included in the Democrats’ COVID-19 stimulus package. She ruled that the wage hike didn’t meet the criteria to be included in the bill under the budget reconciliation—a process that would allow a bill to clear the Senate without Republican support in the 50-50 chamber.
A growing number of states have already raised the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
Jack Phillips contributed to this report.