Bernie Sanders believes $15 minimum wage will remain in COVID relief plan

Sanders explained that the increase from $7.25 to $15 would not happen immediately or all at once

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Sen. Bernie Sanders said Saturday he is “confident” Senate Democrats will be able to keep the proposed $15 per hour minimum wage increase, which is a key part of the Biden Administration’s $1.9 trillion relief package, in the plan.

“Raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour is not incidental to the federal budget and is permissible under the rules of reconciliation,” Sanders said in a statement.

Read More: Biden, Democrats hit gas on push for $15 minimum wage

“The CBO [Congressional Budget Office] has found that the $15 minimum wage has a much greater impact on the federal budget than opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling and repealing the individual mandate penalties — two provisions that the parliamentarian advised did not violate the Byrd Rule when Republicans controlled the Senate,” Sanders continued.

When he appeared on CNN on Friday, Sanders explained that the increase from $7.25 an hour to $15 would not happen immediately. He said that after an initial pay hike to $9.25 an hour, the remaining increases would be gradual, occurring over the course of the next five years.

“Half of our workers are living paycheck to paycheck and millions of people are working for starvation wages,” Sanders wrote on Twitter on Friday.

According to The Hill, Republicans staunchly oppose the bill, and argue that the increase would damage small businesses. Sanders countered by saying that the gradual rise over five years should diminish their concerns.

Read More: Surprise medical-bill protection included in relief package

Sanders pointed to a report by the CBO that found the wage bump would bring nearly a million people out of poverty, but could lead to the elimination of 1.4 million jobs. 

“We need the minimum wage to be a living wage of $15 an hour and that’s what the American people want and that’s what I intend to do,” Sanders said.

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