Ambushing Kamala Harris over the minimum wage was always disingenuous. The embarrassing collapse of Bernie's amendment proves it.

Bernie Sanders

For a week, the alt-left has been mad at the Biden administration, and particularly, at Vice President Kamala Harris. She was standing in the way of raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, they railed, because she was refusing to "overrule" the Senate Parliamentarian who advised that the Senate rules prohibit the inclusion of a minimum wage provision in a bill being considered under budget reconciliation.

The argument went something like this: Now that Democrats have the majority - razor thin as it may be - they must do everything they can to enact a $15 federal minimum wage, including turning the United States into a banana republic by having the executive branch - of which the Vice President is a part - usurp the Senate's constitutional rulemaking powers. Under regular order, 60 votes would be required to end debate and pass a stand-alone bill to raise the minimum wage, and with a 50-50 Senate, that would never happen. The only way the Senate could pass a $15 minimum wage with 50 votes, Sanders and his allies argued, was to pass it through reconciliation. The only way to include it in a reconciliation package, so-called progressives said, was to have Vice President Harris, in her role as Empress of the Senate... err...  President of the Senate, declare the provision eligible for reconciliation in contravention of the rules as applied by the parliamentarian.

That line of argument - even if it were to get passed the rules debate - was predicated on the basis that the if the rules weren't such a bummer, a $15 minimum wage would sail through the Senate with 50 Democratic votes and if need be, the tie-breaking yes vote of Vice President Harris. That means Bernie Sanders would have to succeed in getting every Democratic Senator - or one Republican to replace each negative Democratic - to come on board.

Well, the Senate voted today, and Sanders was not even close. Sanders's amendment to the American Rescue Plan - the massive $1.9 trillion COVID relief package moving through the Senate with what for the Senate's pace of business may as well be lightning speed - to raise the minimum wage to $15 got just 42 votes in favor during a procedural vote. 58 Senators - all 50 Republicans as well as 7 Democrats and Sanders's fellow independent Angus King - voted against it.

It was a catastrophic failure. When all voting on all amendments to the American Rescue Plan are done, this amendment from someone his fans have crowned the 'Amendment King' might hold the distinction of earning most No votes out of all high profile amendments offered.

Would it have made any difference if Vice President Harris had allowed the provision to stay in the original bill - as opposed to being offered as an amendment - in contravention of the Senate rules?  The ruling of the chair to keep the provision in the original package may have itself been challenged, and although under the rules of reconciliation 60 votes would be needed to overrule her, given how badly Sanders's amendment went down in flames, there may well have been two additional votes to do so on institutional defense grounds alone.

But the ruling wouldn't need to have been challenged to strip out the minimum wage provision. An amendment to strip it out would have passed just as easily as Sanders's failed.

The vote today also dooms the prospects of the $15 federal minimum wage for the duration of this Congress. We now know for a fact that Sanders and his allies are miles away from securing 50 votes for the wage hike, which means that even if Democrats were to somehow get some conservative Democratic senators on board and succeed at striking down the Senate rule known as the filibuster that allows a minority of 41 Senators to indefinitely hold up legislation, there is no place for it to go. And that is entirely on the failed leadership of Bernie Sanders.

Bernie Sanders has been a member of Congress for more than 30 years, and a Senator for more than 14. He has chaired two different committees in the United States Senate: the Veterans Affairs Committee from 2013-2014 and now the Budget Committee. The $15 minimum wage has been his signature issue for a decade.

And yet, with all that seniority, with all that focus, all he could muster was 42 votes. For his signature legislation. Perhaps the problem with the ship of the $15 minimum wage is not the crew but the captain. Indeed, outside of renaming post offices, he appears to have a truly difficult time advancing signature legislation, even ones as popular as the minimum wage increase.

Bernie Sanders never had 50 votes to pass a $15 minimum wage. The demands from the left that the Biden administration and the Vice President fall on their swords for this embarrassing fiasco that Sanders has created was never anything more than a disingenuous attempt to cover up for the abject failure of their own movement leaders.

Shame on them.

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