WASHINGTON: The Democratic-controlled Senate cannot include President Joe Biden's proposed US$15 per hour minimum wage in a US$1.9 trillion coronavirus bill the party aims to pass without Republican votes, the body's parliamentarian ruled, a Bloomberg reporter said on Twitter on Thursday.
Bloomberg White House reporter Jennifer Epstein tweeted that the Senate parliamentarian had "ruled minimum-wage boost out of order".
Biden and many of his fellow Democrats want to more than double the minimum wage by 2025 to US$15 per hour. They included the rise in his coronavirus relief bill to help tackle the heavy human and economic toll of the pandemic, which has killed more than 500,000 Americans and thrown millions out of work.
Democrats are trying to advance the COVID-19 bill under a special "budget reconciliation" process that would allow them to pass it in the Senate using a simple majority, so they will not need Republican support.
But there are rules that limit what can be included using that process, and it is the job of Senate parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough to determine what is allowed.
A negative ruling, however, would not mean the idea of raising the minimum wage is dead. Proponents could seek to pass a separate bill without using the reconciliation process, but they presumably would need Republican support.
(Reporting by Susan Cornwell and Eric Beech; Editing by Rosalba O'Brien and Stephen Coates)