All eyes on Senate parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough as she reviews minimum wage provision in Covid relief bill

A little known but powerful Senate official is being thrust into the spotlight this week as Democrats are eager to see whether an increase to the federal minimum wage will be kept in President Joe Biden’s Covid relief package.

Senate parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough has been advising the chamber on how its rules, protocols and precedents should be appliedand now she’ll have to decide whether the $ 15 minimum wage provision is allowed under the budget reconciliation process.
Democrats and the White House are attempting to push Biden’s $ 1.9 trillion Covid relief package through the Senate by reconciliation, meaning the bill could pass with a simply majority of 51 votes and not require 60 votes to overcome a filibuster. Reconciliation, egter, has a strict set of rules, and provisions have to undergo a review of whether it has an impact on the budget and not just anincidental” een.
MacDonough is the first woman to serve in the role of Senate parliamentariana nonpartisan rolesince that position was created in the 1930s. She was appointed to the role in 2012 by former Democratic Sen. Harry Reid, who was the majority leader at the time.
    She replaced her former boss Alan Frumin, who retired that year after serving in the role for 18 jare.
    MacDonough herself has been with the Senate parliamentarian’s office for more than two decades, first joining as an assistant in 1999. Her first major task was helping to advise then-Vice President Al Gore on the Senate procedure for counting ballots in his 2000 election against George W. Bush, an experience she calledvery exciting and humblingin a profile piece for her alma mater.
    MacDonough’s prior rulings in the nine years that she’s served as Senate parliamentarian include finding several provisions in the Republikeine’ 2017 health care bill did not adhere to the Senate’s rules for reconciliation. In her time in office, MacDonough has also already advised on the two impeachment trials for former President Donald Trump. Laas jaar, MacDonough was seen regularly whispering guidance to Chief Justice John Roberts as he presided over Trump’s first Senate impeachment trial.
    The Senate parliamentarian is the only person on the Senate payroll whose fundamental responsibility is to represent the interests of the Senate as an institution in the thousands of disputes between and among senators,” Frumin wrote in a CNN op-ed last year.Everyone else on the floor of the Senate is a partisan warrior who earns their keep by fighting for their political objectives. The parliamentarian ensures that the rules are followed.
    Hierdie week, Democratic and Republican staffers will sit down with MacDonough as she evaluates whether the minimum wage provision would be permissible through reconciliation or if it would need to be struck from the Covid relief package.
    Her ruling could be handed down as early as Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning.
    Intussen, Democrats are having discussions about alternative paths they could take to salvage their increase in the minimum wage as they face two potential hurdles.
    Eerste, it’s possible MacDonough could rule against allowing the $ 15 minimum wage to be in the Senate Democrats’ rekening. As dit gebeur, Demokrate’ options would likely be to try and pass the legislation as a standalone in the future with a 60-vote threshold, something that Republicans wouldn’t support.
    As die $ 15 minimum wage is allowed to stay in the bill, egter, it opens up other potential challenges for the party. While progressives have fought for months to include the provision in the package, it could cost Democrats the votes they need to pass it with just 51 stemme. Already two Democratic members — Betekenis. Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchinhave said they wouldn’t support that big of an increase in the minimum wage in the bill. Manchin, egter, has expressed an openness to a smaller minimum wage.
    According to aides, Democrats are looking at whether it might be possible to lower the increase in the minimum wage to $ 11 of $ 12 n uur, in plaas van $ 15. Another option being considered is to expand the phase-in period so that instead of getting to the $ 15 minimum wage in five years, nationally, it would take 10 jare.
    The talks, egter, are just preliminary. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, the chairman of the Budget Committee, is still committed to the full $ 15 amount.
    The Senate Finance Committee is also eyeing a provision to give some of the smallest businesses tax credits to help curb the cost of the wage increase and incentivize businesses to increase their minimum wage, according to an aide familiar with the discussions.
      Multiple aides warned that the discussions are still just ideas and all eyes are first on what the Senate’s parliamentarian would do. Maar, the minimum wage increase remains a key sticking point so Democrats are having some preliminary conversations about how the Covid relief bill’s votes could be salvaged if necessary.
      Sanders, in arguing that the minimum wage provision is notincidentalto the federal budget, has pointed to MacDonough’s rulings on the GOP 2017 tax bill which allowed the opening of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil drilling and repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate penalties

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