Skip to content Skip to footer

Eight Democrats Joined GOP to Vote Down Sanders’s $15 Minimum Wage Amendment

Sen. Bernie Sanders’s effort to reattach a $15 minimum wage provision to the Senate COVID relief package failed Friday.

Sen. Bernie Sanders passes through a hallway at the U.S. Capitol March 5, 2021, in Washington, D.C.

Sen. Bernie Sanders’s last-ditch effort to reattach a $15 minimum wage provision to the Senate coronavirus relief package failed Friday morning after 8 members of the Democratic caucus joined all 50 Republicans in voting down the Vermont senator’s amendment.

Those who voted against advancing Sanders’s amendment were Senators Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Angus King (I-Maine.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), and Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.).

“Every single Dem who voted against a $15 minimum wage should be primaried,” declared Krystal Ball, host of HillTV’s “Rising.”

In a statement following Friday’s vote, Sanders said that “at a time when millions of people are working for starvation wages, when the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour has not been raised by Congress since 2007, when the president of the United States and the House of Representatives support it, it is absolutely imperative that the Senate approve an increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour.”

“If any senator believes this is the last time they will cast a vote on whether or not to give a raise to 32 million Americans, they are sorely mistaken,” Sanders continued. “We’re going to keep bringing it up, and we’re going to get it done because it is what the American people demand and need.”

Sanders’s attempt to add an overwhelmingly popular federal minimum wage increase to the coronavirus relief package via the amendment process came after the Senate parliamentarian — an unelected official with zero constitutional authority — issued an advisory opinion that deemed the proposed pay hike a violation of budget reconciliation rules.

After the White House made clear that Vice President Kamala Harris would not be willing to exercise her authority to override the parliamentarian’s advice, Senate Democrats removed the $15 minimum wage provision from their version of the coronavirus relief bill.

“Because of an unfortunate and misguided decision by the parliamentarian, this reconciliation bill does not include an increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour,” Sanders said on the Senate floor Friday. “In my view, an unelected staffer in the Senate should not be in charge of determining whether 32 million workers in America receive a raise.”

Pennsylvania Lt. Governor John Fetterman, a Democratic U.S. Senate candidate, said in a statement Friday that “every single senator who voted against a $15 minimum wage today should be forced to live on $7.25 an hour so that they can demonstrate to all of us how it’s possible.”

“While these senators sit comfortably in Washington making $174,000 a year, millions of Americans are struggling every day to get by, and they cannot wait any longer,” Fetterman added. “They need a living wage now. All work has dignity, and all paychecks must too. If the Senate were to pass a $15 minimum wage, 24 million people would see their wages rise. Instead, 58 deeply out of touch senators decided to turn their backs on working people.”

The stakes have never been higher (and our need for your support has never been greater).

For over two decades, Truthout’s journalists have worked tirelessly to give our readers the news they need to understand and take action in an increasingly complex world. At a time when we should be reaching even more people, big tech has suppressed independent news in their algorithms and drastically reduced our traffic. Less traffic this year has meant a sharp decline in donations.

The fact that you’re reading this message gives us hope for Truthout’s future and the future of democracy. As we cover the news of today and look to the near and distant future we need your help to keep our journalists writing.

Please do what you can today to help us keep working for the coming months and beyond.