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GOP Leader: Pelosi leaving $15 minimum wage in COVID stimulus bill to maintain progressive support

McCarthy is calling for an "up-or-down vote" on all items in the coronavirus stimulus bill that he says aren't directly related to COVID-19

Updated: February 27, 2021 - 12:17pm

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House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy said Friday that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is leaving the minimum-wage increase to $15 an hour in the COVID-19 stimulus package, despite the Senate parliamentarian's ruling, to maintain progressive support for the bill.

"She knows it will not survive in the Senate because the parliamentarian already told her that. Is she keeping it in the bill to keep her payoffs? Exactly what I named the bill," McCarthy said at a news conference while wearing a "No Pelosi Payoffs" pin. 

"This is for a progressive wing of the party who says they will not vote for the bill unless they have that in there. Now is that how to deal with COVID? How many small businesses have already closed?"

"How much more pain will you put on?" he continued. "All the studies show you’re actually going to lose more jobs. Look what happened in Seattle when they did it. It actually costs people their jobs who need it the most, those who are just lower entry level. So to me, it’s just more politics and it’s wrong because you know in the Senate it’s not going to survive."

The California Republican added that Pelosi is "keeping it in the bill to try to get the progressives of the Democrats to pass the bill. Otherwise, the bill will fail."

The Congressional Budget Office estimated that a gradual $15 minimum wage by 2025 would result in the loss of 1.4 million jobs and add $54 billion to the budget deficit over 10 years. The budget deficit hit a record $3.1 trillion in fiscal year 2020. 

McCarthy and House GOP Whip Steve Scalise have argued that just 9 percent of the funding in President Biden and the Democrats' $1.9 trillion stimulus bill is directly related to COVID-19.

"If every single thing in Democrats' $1.9 trillion blowout is important to 'COVID relief,'Speaker Pelosi should allow an up-or-down vote on each item separately," McCarthy tweeted on Friday.

Some progressive Democrats have called on Vice President Kamala Harris to overrule the parliamentarian on the minimum wage hike. On Friday, Brian Deese, director of the White House National Economic Council, said Biden and Harris won't weigh in on the parliamentarian's ruling. 

The CBO estimated the cost of the coronavirus stimulus bill and determined it would add $1.9 trillion to the deficit over a 5 year period.

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