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Dollars And Sense: The Federal Minimum Wage And Pandemic Childcare Credits

Surrounded by members of House Democratic leadership, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks during a news conference about COVID-19 relief legislation in Washington, DC.
Surrounded by members of House Democratic leadership, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks during a news conference about COVID-19 relief legislation in Washington, DC.

President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 relief plan passed the House this past weekend and is now on its way to the Senate. But there’s one provision that will prove quite the hurdle if the bill is to land on the president’s desk.

Democrats are using a congressional process (called budget reconciliation) that helps them avoid a 60-vote threshold for the bill to pass in the Senate. However, that strategy means everything in the bill must relate to the federal budget. The Senate parliamentarian determined that a provision concerning raising the federal minimum wage doesn’t apply to the budget.

The provision is expected to be removed from the relief package when it makes its way to the Senate, much to the chagrin of congressional progressives who say that raising the federal minimum wage is crucial in supporting working families during the pandemic. It’s wildly unpopular with conservatives, who are convinced raising the minimum wage will hurt businesses.

In addition to raising the minimum wage, the bill also provides for a sort of pandemic child allowance, where families with children receive a few hundred dollars a month. This idea seems to have some bipartisan support. Sen. Mitt Romney proposed a smaller version of the same provision.

If the bill passes with a child allowance provision, experts say it could cut child poverty in the United States by a significant margin.

What effect will the relief bill have on families and working Americans?

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