The Senate parliamentarian has rejected Democratic efforts to increase the minimum wage through budget reconciliation, setting the stage for a fight between the moderate and progressive wings of the party. Democratic leadership still seems to think there’s a chance to get it through, but with diminished options, progressives are pushing their caucus to consider more extreme measures, The Washington Post reports.

Both Senate leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have said they aren’t done with the minimum wage, with Pelosi still including it in her latest proposal. Joe Biden’s administration has been more measured.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Biden was “disappointed in this outcome” but “respects the parliamentarian’s decision and the Senate’s process.”

That wasn’t good enough for progressive Democrats, who immediately began urging congressional leaders to do whatever it takes to overrule the parliamentarian. 

“We said we’d raise the wage. Now, we need to deliver,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., tweeted. “We must be prepared to use every tool in our toolbox to get this done, whether it’s overruling the parliamentarian if necessary or finally ending the filibuster. Not delivering is not an option.”

Biden’s administration has already said it won’t try to overrule the parliamentarian, and conservative Democrat Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., has said he wouldn’t support the move, meaning Democrats likely lack the votes. 

US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Congress cannot 'dilute, dither or delay' President Joe Biden's massive economic rescue plan US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Congress cannot 'dilute, dither or delay' President Joe Biden's massive economic rescue plan Photo: AFP / OLIVIER DOULIERY

That hasn’t stopped progressive from advocating for other long-shot possibilities. 

“We still need to pass the minimum wage, and if that means getting rid of the filibuster, so be it,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., said.

There are other options more palatable to Democratic leadership and more likely to get the votes needed to pass. The language of the wage increase could be altered to tie it to taxation, fitting it more closely with reconciliations intended budgetary purpose. The amount could be decreased to a number likely to sway moderates, with other measures like corporate tax incentives picking up the slack elsewhere in the bill. 

While Biden has said he doesn’t want the parliamentarian overruled outright, Schumer and Pelosi are yet to rule it out if it means passing Democrats’ sweeping agenda.

“House Democrats believe that the minimum-wage hike is necessary,” Pelosi said. “Therefore this provision will remain in the American Rescue Plan on the floor tomorrow. Democrats in the House are determined to pursue every possible path in the fight for 15."

“We are not going to give up the fight to raise the minimum wage to $15 to help millions of struggling American workers and their families,” said Schumer. “The American people deserve it, and we are committed to making it a reality.”