Now that the Senate Parliamentarian has ruled that a minimum wage increase cannot be passed through the reconciliation process, the course of action is clear, or at least it should be.
The President of the Senate, Vice President Kamala Harris, can overrule the unelected Senate official, and it would require a vote of 60 Senators to overrule her decision.
Unfortunately, given that Biden has already said that he thought that a minimum wage increase was dead, and Biden's chief of staff has said that Harris would not rule against her, it appears that they are playing to lose.
Not a surprise. Learned helplessness, is an innate trait of the Democratic Party establishment (There is no Democratic Party establishment), and Joe Biden has enormous affection for an institution frequently called, "A Petri Dish for Psychopaths."
If they were not cowards or delusional, here is what would happen:
On Thursday, a key Senate official advised Democratic lawmakers that the chamber’s rules do not allow them to include a minimum wage increase in President Joe Biden’s first COVID-19 relief legislation. The ruling from the parliamentarian means that Vice President Kamala Harris could decide the fate of one of the Democratic Party’s most significant campaign promises — but it remains unclear what she will end up doing.
As the presiding officer of the Senate, Harris — who has long touted her support for a $15 minimum wage — can now use the power her predecessors have used to ignore the advisory opinion and fulfill Biden’s campaign promise to boost the wage. A confidential memo obtained by The Daily Poster now circulating on Capitol Hill spells out exactly how that could be accomplished.
However, White House chief of staff Ron Klain this week declared that Harris will refuse to use that power — a decision that would effectively put the Biden-Harris administration in the position of potentially killing the prospect of minimum wage legislation for the foreseeable future. Immediately after the parliamentarian’s ruling, the White House issued a statement reiterating Klain’s comment, declaring that “Biden respects the parliamentarian’s decision.”
Some congressional Democrats have already been arguing that the Biden administration’s refusal to overrule the parliamentarian would be immoral and a political disaster for their party.
As such, Democrats are working to pass the COVID bill using the convoluted budget reconciliation process. The process will allow for a simple majority vote on the final legislation, but it also allows Senate parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough to recommend tossing certain provisions if she decides they violate the so-called Byrd Rule, which is designed to prohibit extraneous matters outside of federal spending issues to be added to budget legislation.
BTW, while not common, overruling the parliamentarian is by means rare, particularly given that the Senate can pass one reconciliation bill in a year:
Vice presidents have ignored the parliamentarian in the past. According to Slate, "Vice President Hubert Humphrey routinely ignored his parliamentarian’s advice.”
Roll Call reported last month: “Precedents for ignoring parliamentary advice include 1967, 1969, and 1975 efforts to change the Senate's threshold to end debate from a two-thirds vote to three-fifths.”
In a new memo circulating to lawmakers and obtained by The Daily Poster, Harris’s power as the presiding Chair of the Senate is spelled out, citing a precedent set during the Clinton administration.
“It would take 60 votes to overturn the ruling of the Chair on a Byrd Rule point of order, regardless of what the Parliamentarian advises,” states the memo. “Based on a search of the Congressional Record, it appears that only twice has the chair’s ruling on a Byrd Rule point of order been appealed. Both instances occurred on August 6, 1993, during consideration of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993. Neither appeal garnered the 60 affirmative votes necessary to overturn the Chair’s ruling.”
Like I said, the Dems are playing to lose, and come 2022, lose they will.