UPDATED 1:15 PM PT – Friday, February 26, 2021
Democrat leaders in Washington were dealt a huge blow when a key Senate official barred them from including a $15 minimum wage increase in their upcoming coronavirus relief package. On Thursday, the Senate Parliamentarian ruled Democrats may not include a minimum wage increase in their next COVID relief bill because the move did not meet the strict set of guidelines that govern budget bills.
This came as House progressives called for Democrats to either aggressively pursue a wage increase or risk losing their support. Moderate Democrats and the entire GOP Senate have continued to challenge the move anyway. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) argued the proposal to raise the federal minimum wage would hurt millions of small businesses across the nation.
“There is just only so much money coming in the door and if you have to double the cost of paying a worker,” Graham noted. “You probably aren’t going to hire anybody else.”
Graham also pointed out while a higher minimum wage might not pose a big problem for large corporations, such as Walmart or Costco, small family-owned bars, shops and restaurants would not be able to hire workers at $15 per hour.
“The CEO of Walmart could make $20 million, not $22 million and they could absorb an increase in minimum wage and not give stock dividends and not pay their top people so much,” Graham stated. “They just choose not to do that. The last thing the federal government should be doing is doubling the cost of doing business for small businesses in the hospitality service industry that are barely making it to begin with.”
Graham added millions of small businesses were decimated by COVID lockdowns and a hike in federal minimum wage would finish them off. According to a report by small-business network Alignable, at least 13.9 million small businesses are running out of cash reserves and will be forced to close by April 1. Currently, the U.S. has 37.7 million small businesses that are still afloat, but 44 percent of them are likely to disappear in coming weeks.
The worst carnage of small businesses is taking place in Democrat-run states including California, New York and Illinois. Over the past year, millions of small businesses have already closed due to COVID lockdowns and Antifa riots. To avoid economic disaster, Republicans offered an alternative to the minimum wage push and proposed a more reasonable increase to $10 an hour.