It doesn’t matter that President Obama will announce raising the minimum wage for only a fraction of the federal workforce — progressives are ecstatic.
“I’m pumped up,” Progressive Caucus Cochairman Keith Ellison said this morning. “I’m so happy that I’m playing Brazilian music here.”
The Minnesota Democrat led an effort to push President Obama to raise the minimum wage for workers on federal contracts. And low-wage federal contract workers have been protesting for an increase in pay, since raising the minimum wage for all workers has been a heavy lift in Congress. Obama will announce at tonight’s State of the Union that he will raise the wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour for these workers. But it’s only for workers on new contracts, representing several hundred thousand workers. Despite that, progressives are declaring a win.
“We feel great about it. To me, it’s evidence that activism works. If you petition your government peacefully for the right thing, something that helps people,” it will happen, Ellison said. “It’s not always on your timeline…. This is not a complete victory, but we also understood that half of something is better than all of nothing.”
Sen. Tom Harkin, the leading Senate advocate for a federal minimum wage increase, is pleased, too. But he isn’t satisfied. “This executive order is a strong step in the right direction, and I am grateful for President Obama’s leadership,” the Iowa Democrat said in a statement. “But as I know the president would agree, it’s only a first step.”
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"Even if House Republicans manage to get enough members of their party on board with the latest version of their health care bill, they will face another battle in the Senate: whether the bill complies with the chamber’s arcane ... Byrd rule, which stipulates all provisions in a reconciliation bill must affect federal spending and revenues in a way that is not merely incidental." Democrats should have the advantage in that fight, "unless the Senate pulls another 'nuclear option.'”
The House has passed a one-week spending bill that will avert a government shutdown which was set to begin at midnight. Lawmakers now have an extra week to come to a longer agreement which is expected to fund the government through the end of the fiscal year in September. The legislation now goes to the Senate, where it is expected to pass before President Trump signs it.
President Trump’s portrayal of an effort to funnel more Medicaid dollars to Puerto Rico as a "bailout" is complicating negotiations over a continuing resolution on the budget. "House Democrats are now requiring such assistance as a condition for supporting the continuing resolution," a position that the GOP leadership is amenable to. "But Mr. Trump’s apparent skepticism aligns him with conservative House Republicans inclined to view its request as a bailout, leaving the deal a narrow path to passage in Congress."
Democrats in the House are threatening to shut down the government if Republicans expedite a vote on a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, said Democratic House Whip Steny Hoyer Thursday. Lawmakers have introduced a one-week spending bill to give themselves an extra week to reach a long-term funding deal, which seemed poised to pass easily. However, the White House is pressuring House Republicans to take a vote on their Obamacare replacement Friday to give Trump a legislative victory, though it is still not clear that they have the necessary votes to pass the health care bill. This could go down to the wire.