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GOP slams Biden for $15 minimum wage push while small businesses struggle to stay open in pandemic

'They've chosen a totally partisan path,' Senate Majority Leader says of Senate Democrats

Published: February 2, 2021 2:48pm

Updated: February 2, 2021 6:16pm

Republican senators on Tuesday slammed President Biden and Democratic leaders in Congress for moving forward with raising the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 per hour during a pandemic as part of the nearly $2 trillion relief package the president has proposed.

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, has vowed to use "budget reconciliation" to pass the large-scale stimulus package without Republican votes if needed.

Wyoming Republican Sen. John Barrasso said the effort to pass a nearly $2 trillion stimulus package without votes from Republicans in a 50-50 Senate conflicts with Biden's message of unity.

"Once again it is loaded with things completely unrelated to coronavirus and they plan to cram it down the throats of the American people on a purely party-line vote," he said, referring to Biden's plan. "It's paying people more to not work than to work with enhanced unemployment and unemployment bonuses. It's a federal mandate for small businesses that are struggling all across the country to double the minimum wage; for the small businesses in Wyoming that are struggling today, it's going to be almost impossible to make payroll."

Barrasso referred to a Congressional Budget Office report from 2019 that said a $15 minimum wage could result in the loss of 1.3 million jobs.

A group of GOP senators met with Biden on Monday evening to advocate for a more targeted $618 billion stimulus package but no formal bipartisan agreement has been reached.

"Our members who were in the meeting felt that the president seemed to be more interested than his staff did or than it seems like the Democratic leadership in the House and Senate are," said Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell. 

Despite the meeting, McConnell said Senate Democrats are moving forward with a vote on a budget resolution on Tuesday to begin the reconciliation process. 

"We're off to a totally partisan start. I think that's unfortunate," he said. 

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