An influential progressive group is targeting the eight Senate Democrats who earlier this month broke party ranks and voted against an amendment brought by Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont to include a federal minimum wage hike to $15 per hour to the massive $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package.
A fundraising email by Justice Democrats that was sent to supporters on Tuesday charged that the eight senators “did not represent the interests of working people in this country when they voted against a $15 minimum wage.”
And the email spotlighted that “Corporate Democrats in Congress prove to us every single day why we need to elect better Democrats — not just more Democrats.”
President Biden and progressive Democrats made boosting the minimum wage from its current $7.25 an hour – where it’s remained for over a decade – to $15 an hour a major pledge on the 2020 campaign trail.
The minimum wage boost was part of the massive COVID-19 package that passed the House of Representatives last month, but was removed from the Senate bill due to objections from the Senate parliamentarian. An amendment to reinsert the wage hike in the Senate bill was defeated in a 58-42 vote.
Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Krysten Sinema of Arizona, Tom Carper and Chris Coons of Delaware, Maggie Hassan and Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Jon Tester of Montana all voted against the amendment by Sanders, the longtime progressive champion and two-time Democratic presidential candidate. Independent Sen. Angus King of Maine, who is a member of the Democrats’ Senate conference, also voted against the measure.
While all eight lawmakers support booting the minimum wage, they’re not all sold on upping it to $15 per hour, and many opposed attaching the wage hike to the COVID-19 package.
Progressive Democrats – which grabbed national attention in the 2018 midterm elections for helping so-called “Squad” Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Alyanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib win election to Congress, and which backed successful progressive Democratic primary challengers as Reps. Cori Bush of Missouri and Jamaal Bowman of New York in the 2020 cycle – called the vote by the eight Senate Democrats “unconscionable.”
In asking for a small-dollar grassroots contribution, Justice Democrats stressed that “if the political establishment wants to keep protecting its corporate donors, we will keep ushering in a new generation of diverse, progressive Democrats like AOC, Jamaal Bowman, and Cori Bush.”
Hassan is the only one of the eight senators who’s up for reelection in 2022. It’s early in the cycle, but so far no credible potential progressive contender has raised the possibility of primary challenging Hassan in the key battleground state.