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COVID-19

Senate Democrats may drop backup plan to raise minimum wage

David Brancaccio and Nancy Marshall-Genzer Mar 1, 2021
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The House passed a COVID relief bill over the weekend that does include a provision for raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images
COVID-19

Senate Democrats may drop backup plan to raise minimum wage

David Brancaccio and Nancy Marshall-Genzer Mar 1, 2021
Heard on:
The House passed a COVID relief bill over the weekend that does include a provision for raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images
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COPY

Senate Democrats are reportedly planning to drop a backup plan to raise the minimum wage as part of the latest COVID-19 relief bill.

Marketplace’s Nancy Marshall-Genzer has the latest. The following is an edited transcript of her conversation with “Marketplace Morning Report” host David Brancaccio.

David Brancaccio: Nancy, what was this fall-back plan?

Nancy Marshall-Genzer: It was Senate Democrats’ Plan B for raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. The Senate parliamentarian said last week the wage hike didn’t comply with guidelines Democrats have to follow in order to fast-track the legislation. That prompted some Senate Democrats to come up with this alternative, to raise the minimum wage through tax penalties and incentives. But now it looks like they won’t go with this plan. because it would be hard to implement and enforce. This was first reported by The Washington Post.

Brancaccio: So what happens now?

Marshall-Genzer: The House passed the COVID relief bill over the weekend and sent the bill to the Senate. The House version does include a provision raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. It’s now unclear whether the final bill will include a minimum wage hike. The Senate is expected to vote on it this week.

Brancaccio: And, as they say, time is of the essence.

Marshall-Genzer: It’s a tight timeline. Democrats want to pass their relief bill and get it signed into law in the next few weeks. That’s because the legislation includes an extension of a weekly, federal unemployment benefit. Right now, that benefit is set to expire in mid-March.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

What do vaccines mean for economic recovery?

COVID-19 is not going anywhere anytime soon, according to expert witnesses who testified at a recent hearing held by the Joint Economic Committee. Put simply, we can’t eradicate the virus because it infects other species, and there will also be folks who choose not to get the vaccine or don’t mount an immune response, according to Dr. Céline Gounder at NYU School of Medicine & Bellevue Hospital. “That means we can’t only rely on vaccination,” Gounder said. She said the four phases of recovering from the pandemic are ending the emergency, relaxing mitigation measures, getting to herd immunity and having long-term control.

Can businesses deny you entry if you don’t have a vaccine passport?

As more Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19 and the economy begins reopening, some businesses are requiring proof of vaccination to enter their premises. The concept of a vaccine passport has raised ethical questions about data privacy and potential discrimination against the unvaccinated. However, legal experts say businesses have the right to deny entrance to those who can’t show proof.

What do I need to know about tax season this year?

Glad you asked! We have a whole separate FAQ section on that. Some quick hits: The deadline has been extended from April 15 to May 17 for individuals. Also, millions of people received unemployment benefits in 2020 — up to $10,200 of which will now be tax-free for those with an adjusted gross income of less than $150,000. And, for those who filed before the American Rescue Plan passed, simply put, you do not need to file an amended return at the moment. Find answers to the rest of your questions here.

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