Progressives Wage Federal Fight for $15 Wage in the Lame-Duck Congress

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) speaks at the Web Summit 2019 conference in Lisbon, Portugal. Photo by Cody Glenn/Web Summit via Sportsfile


Cody Glenn/Web Summit (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Progressive lawmakers have launched an effort to pass a $15 federal minimum wage in the post-election "lame-duck" Congress, and talks are under way to get it done before the end of the year.

As TYT first reported, progressives originally planned to attach the minimum-wage hike to the annual defense spending bill, to counter a bid by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) to insert his own language in that bill to let energy companies steamroll community opposition and get permits for new fossil fuel projects.

Manchin’s language didn’t appear in that bill, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), but it’s possible he might still succeed in attaching it to the NDAA as an amendment.

Congressional progressives tell TYT they’re moving forward regardless.

According to Reps. Ro Khanna (D-CA) and Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), talks on how to pass a minimum-wage hike are happening after its apparently successful use as leverage against Manchin’s permitting bill.

That strategy, coupled with strong opposition from the left, the right, and the environmental justice community, effectively kept Manchin’s permitting language out of the NDAA, released Tuesday night.

Republican lawmakers previously balked at Manchin’s bill, saying it doesn’t go far enough to fast-track energy projects. And ranking members of the Senate and House Armed Services Committees reportedly had no interest in attaching Manchin’s bill to the NDAA.

After his attempt was defeated, Manchin has taken to Twitter to ask the Senate to include his energy permitting bill as an amendment to the NDAA.

With the NDAA potentially off the table as a means for passage, where does that leave the federal fight for $15?

Khanna on Thursday told TYT that he’s looking at “other vehicles” to get it done.

When asked if he would try to tack it on to an omnibus government funding bill, Khanna said, “Possibly. That’s what we’re looking at. And, again as a counter to making sure that the permitting doesn’t get in there.”

Bowman, who last week told TYT “Hell yeah” he’s on board with increasing the federal minimum wage to $15, confirmed Khanna’s remark.

Asked if there would still be a push to actually get a federal wage increase done, Bowman told TYT on Thursday, “Yes. There’s constant communication and conversations in a bicameral way looking to get a $15 minimum wage done. So, yes is the short answer.”

Bowman said that while they haven’t yet nailed down the specifics, it is something they’re looking to get done before the next Congress is sworn in. He says conversations are ongoing between the Congressional Progressive Caucus and the Senate.

When asked if he’s worried about Manchin’s permitting bill coming back around for a third time, House Natural Resources Chair Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), who first led the charge against the permitting bill, said, “I really wish that Leader [Chuck] Schumer [D-NY] would just kill it. It's already been defeated. Twice.”

TYT Washington Correspondent Candice Cole was previously a correspondent and senior White House producer for the Black News Channel and has worked at a number of local news outlets. You can find her on Twitter @CandiceColeNews.