One of President Biden’s top policy goals, an increase in the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, suffered a big setback Friday when eight members of the Senate Democratic caucus voted against it.
The Senate on Friday voted 58-42 to reject a proposal sponsored by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 with seven Democrats and one Independent who caucuses with Democrats joined all 50 Republicans to vote against it.
Here are the eight members of the Senate Democratic Conference who voted against the $15 minimum wage:
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.)
Manchin, the most conservative member of the Democratic conference, hails from a state that voted overwhelmingly for former President Trump in 2016 and 2020, with 68 percent and 69 percent of the vote, respectively. He has emerged as a powerbroker in the 50-50 Senate where the defection of a single Democrat can derail Biden’s agenda.
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.)
Sinema is a Democrat with centrist leanings who is tough to predict. She told Politico in February that she did not support adding a $15 minimum-wage provision to the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package. She split with fellow Arizonan Sen. Mark Kelly (D), who voted Friday to waive a procedural objection to setting a $15 nationwide wage standard.
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)
Shaheen has expressed concerns about Sanders’s proposal to slowly raise the minimum wage for workers who receive tips, such as servers and busboys, to $15 an hour, eventually getting rid of the special “tipped wage” altogether. “I support the minimum wage increase but I’m concerned about including the tipped wage provision because of the current status of the restaurant industry. We’ve had so many closings,” she said, adding the industry is in “difficult straits.”
Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.)
Hassan often sticks with her home-state colleague Shaheen and was spotted this week attending a bipartisan luncheon hosted by Manchin in the Dirksen Senate Office Building. In 2016, she said New Hampshire should raise its minimum wage to at least $10 an hour but added “I think we should look at increasing it further moving forward.”
Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.)
Tester, who narrowly won reelection with 50.3 percent of the vote in 2018, has hinted in recent weeks about his uneasiness about raising the minimum wage to $15. “I think the minimum wage needs to come up. But I think we need to extend it out a ways before it hits the $15 figure. How long that time frame is, is going to be up for debate,” he told “PBS News Hour” in late February.
Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.)
Carper represents one of the most pro-business states in the country and has raised concerns about the relief bill’s $1.9 trillion price tag. “That’s a lot of money,” he told reporters Thursday. “I used to be treasurer of Delaware. And for a guy who was treasurer of the First State, that’s a lot of money.”
Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.)
Coons is one of Biden’s closest Senate allies and an eloquent advocate for the president’s policy agenda, but he must also weigh his constituents’ interests in pro-business Delaware. Delaware’s minimum wage rate increased to $9.25 in October of 2019 but its floor on tipped-wage workers is $2.23 an hour, according to the Delaware Department of Labor. In 2014, he co-sponsored a bill to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10. He did not co-sponsor the Raise the Wage Act Sanders introduced in January, which 37 Democrats co-sponsored.
Sen. Angus King (I-Maine)
King is an independent who has caucused with Democrats since coming to the Senate in 2013. He has worked behind the scenes in recent days to lower the income cutoff for people who are eligible to receive direct stimulus payments, helping to reduce the threshold for complete phaseout from $100,000 in individual income — which House Democrats approved — to $80,000. In 2014, he supported raising the federal minimum to $10.10 an hour.