Senate Democrats defection sparks in-party tension
UPDATED 11:05 AM PT – Saturday, March 6, 2021
On Friday, senators began to debate Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion aid package, which included a more than double increase of the federal minimum wage. Eight Democrats defected their party’s proposed $15 minimum wage increase, joining in with all 50 Republicans to reject the change.
The eight Democrats include Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.).
— Kyrsten Sinema (@SenatorSinema) March 5, 2021
Some of them claimed that the bill did not belong in a coronavirus relief package, adding that the proposal was rushed and misplaced. This sparked tension among the left as progressives like Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) vowed to keep pressing the matter.
In my mind, the great economic crisis that we face today is half of our people are living paycheck to paycheck. And many millions of workers are, frankly, working for starvation wages. Raising the minimum wage is what the American people want, and it’s what we have got to do.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) March 5, 2021
“We’ve got millions of workers working for starvation wages, we’ve got to raise the minimum wage to a living wage to 15 bucks an hour,” Sanders said. “That’s what the American people want and that’s what I intend to do.”
Following the hearing, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D-Pa.) went after the Democrats who stood up against the bill. He stated that those who voted against the proposal should be forced to live on $7 an hour to demonstrate how it’s a possible living wage.
Meanwhile, Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) added that lack of bipartisan effort and divisiveness from the left is the reason the proposal fell through.
“So, they’ve chosen a partisan path, and the reason we’re not doing it together now is they don’t want to do it together,” Graham stated. “They have got a wish list that’s unrelated to COVID that none of us are going to buy into, and I’ll talk to that about that in a minute, but they see this as an opportunity to appropriate money for their liberal wish list, using COVID as the reason.”