After the Senate parliamentarian dealt a potentially lethal blow Thursday to Democrats’ drive to hike the minimum wage, deciding that the cherished progressive goal must fall from a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill the party is trying to speed through Congress, the White House said President Biden will respect the decision. Biden was "disappointed" in the outcome but respected the parliamentarian's ruling, press secretary Jen Psaki said. The Senate has a long tradition of obeying the parliamentarian's decisions with few exceptions, a history that is revered by traditionalists like Biden, a 36-year Senate veteran, the AP reports. "He will work with leaders in Congress to determine the best path forward because no one in this country should work full time and live in poverty," Psaki said.
Democrats are pushing the massive coronavirus relief measure through Congress under special rules that will let them avoid a Senate filibuster by Republicans, a tactic that Democrats would need an unattainable 60 votes to defeat. But those same Senate rules prohibit provisions with only an "incidental" impact on the federal budget because they are chiefly driven by other policy purposes, and aides say parliamentarian Elizabeth McDonough decided the minimum wage provision didn't pass that test. Sen. Lindsey Graham, the top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, hailed the decision from the nonpartisan arbiter. He said it shows the special procedure that Democrats are using to protect the relief bill "cannot be used as a vehicle to pass major legislative change—by either party—on a simple majority vote."
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