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Progressive lawmakers such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rep. Ilhan Omar this weekend pointed out what they saw as shortcomings in the Senate’s revised COVID-19 relief bill, including the removal of a federal minimum wage hike to $15 per hour.
The $1.9 trillion package approved by the Senate on Saturday would provide essential aid, but didn’t go far enough, they said.
“We remain extremely disappointed that the minimum wage bill was not included. The minimum wage remains essential policy and we must deliver on this issue,” the Congressional Progressive Caucus said in a statement.
Omar said the bill as modified by the Senate offered aid to fewer Americans than the package signed by President Donald Trump in December.
“This is not the promise that we made. This is not why we are given the opportunity to be in the majority in the Senate and have the White House,” Omar said on CNN.
She added: “And so ultimately it is a failure when we compromise ourselves out of delivering on behalf of the American people and keeping our promises.”
Omar and Ocasio-Cortez also retweeted a thread from Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, in which the lawmaker questioned whether she could still support the bill when it returned to the House for a vote.
“It seems there’s never a ceiling for the rich when they want a tax cut. And never a floor for the poor when they need help,” Watson Coleman wrote on Twitter.
House leadership scheduled a vote on the Senate bill for Tuesday, with a plan to send it to President Joe Biden before unemployment benefits for millions expire on March 14.
“The House now hopes to have a bipartisan vote on this life-saving legislation and urges Republicans to join us in recognition of the devastating reality of this vicious virus and economic crisis and of the need for decisive action,” Nancy Pelosi, House speaker, said in a statement.
In the days before Saturday’s Senate vote, progressives in both chambers had decried the removal of minimum wage increases in the bill.
Senator Bernie Sanders on Friday made a last-ditch effort to include a $15 minimum wage amendment, which was rejected by his Senate colleagues. Sanders still called the bill “the most significant piece of legislation to benefit working people in the modern history of this country.”
Eight Democratic senators voted against Sanders’ amendment.
On Twitter, Ocasio-Cortez asked her followers to imagine “having the ganas to go home and ask minimum wage workers to support you after going back on your own documented stance to help crush their biggest chance at a wage hike during their longest drought of wage increases since the law’s very inception.”
She added: “Sin vergüenza,” which translates as “without shame.”