- Sens. Mitt Romney and Kyrsten Sinema are working together on a minimum wage proposal.
- Romney confirmed their collaboration on a bill to reporters on Wednesday.
- It comes as Democrats discuss the minimum wage after an increase to $15 failed earlier this year.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Sens. Mitt Romney and Kyrsten Sinema are working together on their own minimum wage proposal, after an increase to $15 was stricken from reconciliation for the American Rescue Plan.
HuffPost first reported a plan was being drafted.
“We’re negotiating a minimum wage proposal which we would ultimately take to our group of 20 and see how they react to it, and go from there,” Romney told reporters on Wednesday. He did not comment on how much the wage would be, or the timeline for it.
A spokesperson for his office declined to comment.
It comes as several Senate Democrats are meeting today to try and make headway on the minimum wage, according to a Democratic aide. Last month, an attempt to bridge Democrat moderates and progressives on the minimum wage did not make much progress.
That meeting included senior Democrats such as Sen. Chuck Schumer, the majority leader; Sen. Ron Wyden, chair of the Senate Finance Committee; and Sen. Bernie Sanders, chair of the Senate Budget Committee among others.
However, Sen. Joe Manchin — one of the moderates who will join the meeting, and a member of the bipartisan group of 20 senators Romney referenced — told HuffPost “I think it’s $11.” A spokesperson for Manchin did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
In February, Romney and Sen. Tom Cotton introduced the Higher Wages for American Workers Act, which would raise the minimum wage to $10 by 2025. It was a counter-proposal to Sen. Bernie Sanders’ Raise the Wage Act, which would have hiked the minimum to $15 by 2025. Romney and Cotton’s proposal would also penalize businesses who hire unauthorized workers, tying a wage hike to the use of E-Verify.
One of the few moderates in the Republican caucus, Romney has broken with his party at other times during the Biden administration, as when he proposed a child benefit that was in some regards similar to the expanded child tax credit that passed in the $1.9 trillion stimulus in March.
Sinema was one of the eight Senate Democrats to vote against including the $15 minimum wage in reconciliation. Her dramatic thumbs-down vote received criticism from fellow Democratic legislators.
“Senators in both parties have shown support for raising the federal minimum wage and the Senate should hold an open debate and amendment process on raising the minimum wage, separate from the COVID-focused reconciliation bill,” she said in a statement at the time.
A spokesperson for her office did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
President Joe Biden campaigned on a $15 minimum wage, and reiterated his support for it in his first presidential town hall.
“We’re at $7.25 an hour. No one should work 40 hours a week and live in poverty,” Biden said.
However, after the $15 proposal was struck from his stimulus plan, Biden released a statement saying he respected the parliamentarian’s decision. Some progressives still urged him to ignore or overrule the decision.
The federal minimum wage is currently $7.25, and hasn’t increased since 2009, when Biden was the vice president.
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