Should the $15 increase in federal minimum wage be included in Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus bill?

Jessie Catellano, Staff Writer

After being sworn in just over a month ago, U.S. President Joe Biden is already pushing his first major legislative initiative. The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan has been passed by the House and is on its way to the Senate. The legislation is facing some unfavorable responses for its minimum wage increase from $7.25 to $15 over the next four years.

Why would Americans want federal minimum wage growth? Considering Biden has been working to increase the wage to $15 an hour since day one, the removal or lack of a wage increase in the package could spur distrust with the new administration. Although there may already be some incredulousness with the White House among the public, Biden has expressed his “disappointment in this outcome.” Biden’s disappointment will propel him and other backers of the wage increase to address it in a bill that is separate from the $1.9 trillion package. Another package will likely come some time in the near future and the bill states that the federal minimum wage will increase gradually over the next four years. This allows for the government to take a little bit of time in crafting the bill and find the right moment to enact it in the next few months.

Many Republicans and financial experts have expressed concern in the need for such a large spending package, which has led to the call for removing the federal minimum wage bump. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said that she concludes that the house will “absolutely” pass the American Rescue Plan, even if it returns from the Senate without the minimum wage increase in it. So Republicans and financial experts will be relieved in knowing that the package could be a little lighter without the increase.

Biden is aggressively pushing for this major legislation to pass, part of a larger effort to revive a lagging American economy by investing in demand. The plan includes payments of $1400 to most individuals and a $400 unemployment check per week for multiple months. There will also be a child tax credit to give families up to $3600 per child over the year and $25 billion to help in covering rent payments. Also, $350 billion will go to state, local and tribal government relief, and $20 billion will go to COVID-19 efforts, such as vaccine distribution and another $50 billion will go towards contact tracing and testing for the virus. Lastly, $170 billion is reserved for K-12 schools and higher education in an effort to cover reopening costs and student-aid.

So if all of this is to be compensated for, why can’t the federal minimum wage be included? This is due to the opposition by some members of Congress for the bill itself – especially the wage increase – and if it is included it may jeopardize the support of those members and potentially the bill as a whole. 

As we near the end of the pandemic, Biden’s American Rescue Plan is necessary to boost the economy and hopefully will put the United States back on the path towards economic prosperity. Admittedly, the federal minimum wage increase is essential to the wellbeing of individuals; the government has little time to waste.

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