Senator Bernie Sanders (I-V.T.), Chairman of the Budgets Committee, speaks during a U.S. Senate Budgets Committee hearing on large corporation wages on Capitol Hill in Washington February 25, 2021.
Stefani Reynolds | Reuters
Top Democrats are drafting new plans penalizing big corporations who pay their employees less than $ 15 an hour after a Senate official ruled Thursday that the party would not include a wage increase in its $ 1.9 trillion business stimulus bill could.
Democrats, led by Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., And Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Vowed to make changes to the existing aid package that would penalize companies that pay workers below a certain hourly rate.
Sanders was quick to reject the decision of Senate MP Elizabeth McDonough, who found Thursday night that a proposed $ 15 minimum wage scheme fell short of the stringent budgetary standards imposed as part of the budget reconciliation.
"I do not agree with today's decision of the Senate MP," said Sanders in a press release on Thursday. "In the days ahead, I will be working with my Senate colleagues to drive a change that will help large, profitable companies that don't pay workers at least $ 15 an hour have tax deductions and small businesses receive." Incentives they need to raise wages. "
"This change must be included in this draft reconciliation," he added.
On Friday morning, Wyden, who is working closely with Sanders on the change, announced more details on "Plan B".
He said his change, if adopted, would impose a 5% penalty on a large company's total wage bill for workers earning less than a certain amount. Wyden added that the penalty would increase over time and include safeguards to prevent companies from trying to outsource workers to avoid paying living wages.
"We couldn't get in the front door or the back door, so we'll try to go through the window," said Wyden of the new plan. "As the talks continue, I believe that this 'Plan B' provides a way for us to move forward and to achieve this through the reconciliation process."
The US last raised the minimum wage to USD 7.25 an hour in 2009.
Wyden, who also chairs the Senate Finance Committee, added that his amendment would give small businesses that pay their workers higher wages a tax credit of 25% of wages up to $ 10,000 per year per employer.
A senior Democratic adviser confirmed Friday that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., Is considering adding a provision to the bill in line with Sanders and Wyden's proposals.
Although the Democrats made the MP's decision clearer, Republican Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri is working to pass a new law aimed at raising the minimum wage for workers.
Hawley, who has faced heavy bipartisan criticism for voting to overthrow President Joe Biden's election, announced on Wednesday a bill that would give low-wage workers a "bonus" through an automatic, advance tax credit.
Hawley's office touted the plan as better than an increase in the minimum wage because it "doesn't pose a huge new burden on small businesses, many of which are still recovering from damaging closures."
Senators will have the option to introduce changes to Biden's $ 1.9 trillion stimulus plan after the House passes the legislation in a vote expected later on Friday in the lower chamber. Democrats hold a slim 50:50 majority in the Senate, with Vice President Kamala Harris having the casting vote.
Still, the Senate bill debate is expected to be full of pitfalls, as a single democratic vote against the plan would sink it.