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Sen. Sinema breaks with Democrats on $15 minimum wage

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Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D) has broken with fellow Democrats on a federal $15 minimum wage that is included in President Joe Biden‘s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package.

“What’s important is whether or not it’s directly related to short-term Covid relief. And if it’s not, then I am not going to support it in this legislation,” Sinema told Politico in an interview this week.

With the U.S. Senate currently split 50-50, Democrats need all the votes they can get in order to pass the package through budget reconciliation, which Sinema, a moderate who was elected in 2018 and became the first Democrat to become a senator for Arizona since 1988, opposes doing for the minimum wage provision.

“The minimum wage provision is not appropriate for the reconciliation process. It is not a budget item. And it shouldn’t be in there,” she also told Politico.

Her opposition to the provision, which Democrats and Biden campaigned for in 2020, could end up dooming the massive package.

Budget reconciliation is a tool that allows legislation to pass with a majority, circumventing the 60-vote filibuster threshold, which Democrats are using to force the bill through the Senate and to the Resolute desk. It should be noted, however, that this tool only pertains to bills dealing with budgetary matters.

However, amid recent calls from many Democrats to get rid of the age-old filibuster rule, Sinema told Politico that she wants to not only keep it, but to also rebuild it.

“There is no instance in which I would overrule a parliamentarian’s decision,” Sinema said. “I want to restore the 60-vote threshold for all elements of the Senate’s work.”

Sinema is joined by West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin (D), who also opposes scrapping the filibuster.

“If I haven’t said it very plain, maybe Sen. McConnell hasn’t understood, I want to basically say it for you. That I will not vote in this Congress, that’s two years, right? I will not vote” to change the filibuster, Manchin told Politico in a late-January interview. “And I hope with that guarantee in place he will work in a much more amicable way.”

Despite Biden having called for a $15 minimum wage multiple times, he told CBS on Sunday that the provision would likely not show up in the final coronavirus package due to it not being a budgetary item and not being related to giving Americans pandemic relief.

“I do think that we should have a minimum wage, stand by itself [at] $15 an hour,” Biden said to CBS’ Norah O’Donnell. “Well, apparently, that’s not going to occur because of the rules of the United States Senate. […] I don’t think it’s going to survive.”

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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Michigan asks residents to house migrants, enroll children in school and help adults find employment

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Michigan is asking its residents to help with the mess its leadership created and house migrants in their own homes. The state Department of Labor and Economic Development said volunteers who participate must commit for at least 90 days as part of the refugee support program.

In addition to opening up their homes, sponsors are expected to support newly arrived refugees by greeting them at the airport, securing and preparing initial housing, enrolling children in school and helping adults find employment.

“Programs like the Welcome Corps advance the Office of Global Michigan’s mission to make Michigan the home for opportunity for our immigrant, refugee and ethnic communities,” said Poppy Hernandez, Global Michigan Director and Michigan’s Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer. “Expanded refugee resettlement pathways empower more Michiganders to support our state’s growing refugee population and build a more welcoming and inclusive Michigan for all.”

The migrants will come from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela, all points of origin where many have been hoping to apply for asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Fox News reports “cities like New York and Chicago have also dealt with issues related to migrants committing crimes, as well as pushback from residents who have voiced anger and concern over the influx. Migrant shelters in those cities have largely been full, forcing officials to come up with ways to safely house the migrants.”

Last year, Massachusetts officials asked residents to open their doors as migrant shelters were full at the time. “Most importantly, if you have an extra room or suite in your home, please consider hosting a family. Housing and shelter is our most pressing need and become a sponsor family,” said Massachusetts Lt. Governor Kim Driscoll.

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