A new poll of 2,013 registered voters has found that 76 percent of voters are supportive of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package. This is an increase from similar polls conducted last month which also indicated support for the bill.
The stimulus package enjoys wide and decisive support. Nearly 90 percent of Democratic voters are in favor of the bill, called the American Rescue package, and 60 percent of Republican voters support the bill, according to a poll released Wednesday by Morning Consult/Politico. Independent voters are also in favor of the bill, with 71 percent of respondents saying that they support it.
Support for the stimulus package among a majority of Republican voters is in stark contrast to the current maneuverings of the congressional Republicans who represent them. GOP leaders are trying to rein in party members to keep them united against the stimulus package, despite polls showing its popularity among voters. Late last month, a group of Republicans had unveiled an alternative to Biden’s stimulus package that cut the bill by more than two-thirds.
Biden’s stimulus package as it stands contains many popular proposals like a $15 federal minimum wage, $1,400 in relief checks, additional unemployment checks and funding for vaccines.
With control of the Senate, House and White House, however, Democrats may not need a single Republican vote to pass the stimulus. Because the package qualifies for a vote under budget reconciliation, the Senate can bypass the filibuster and pass the package with a simple majority vote.
The stimulus is set for a vote in the House on Friday. It will most likely pass, but there are some hurdles yet to be cleared with the bill — the $15 federal minimum wage proposal currently being the most contentious part.
First, there is the procedural hurdle: On Wednesday, the Senate parliamentarian heard arguments from Democrats and Republicans about whether the popular minimum wage proposal fits into the rules of budget reconciliation. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) argued that the minimum wage increase will have a widespread effect on many parts of the budget, reports Roll Call.
Republicans, Roll Call reports, said that the impact of the wage hike on the budget is “merely incidental,” a phrase that somewhat plagues this process as it has never received a formal definition. The Byrd rule, the guidelines by which the parliamentarian decides whether or not something fits under budget reconciliation, says that things that are “merely incidental” are not subject to reconciliation.
Regardless, it is somewhat ironic that Republicans would argue that the minimum wage hike wouldn’t have a big enough impact on the budget to fit under reconciliation. As Sanders noted on MSNBC on Wednesday, “There’s not one Republican who will support a $15 an hour minimum wage,” partially because, as they claim, Republicans think that the proposal is too drastic and will have too large of an impact on the economy.
“Let me be very clear about this: The only way that we are going to raise the minimum wage is through reconciliation or ending the filibuster,” said Sanders.
The other hurdle that progressive Democrats face on the minimum wage hike is their own party. Centrist Senators Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona) and Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) are also opposed to the $15 minimum wage proposal. With a one-vote majority in the Senate, if their opposition turns into a no-vote, the stimulus will have to go back into negotiations.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York), however, said that she could play the same game as Sinema and Manchin to try to preserve the $15 minimum wage, which is extremely popular among the public. If the parliamentarian doesn’t approve the wage increase for the stimulus bill, Ocasio-Cortez says she will reluctantly accept that.
However, Ocasio-Cortez told Politico’s Sarah Ferris on Wednesday, “There’s a scenario, where if our party is voluntarily trying to strip this provision, where we take a stand against it,” hinting that she might vote against the bill if that were the case. She’s also against proposals like Manchin’s to cut the minimum wage hike down to $11 an hour, which she says is “completely unacceptable. $15 is already a compromise.”