White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain on Sunday dodged a question on whether or not Democrats would be willing to set aside the push for a $15 federal minimum wage in order to bring more Republicans onboard with the proposed COVID-19 relief package.
While appearing on NBC’s “Meet The Press” Klain was first asked by host Chuck Todd how much patience President Joe Biden has to find enough Republicans to support the relief package and not have to pass it through a partisan vote. (RELATED: Rep. Dan Crenshaw: If Democrats Claim They Are ‘The Party Of The American Working Class’ They ‘Actually Have To Support Working’)
“We’re going to move fast and we’re going to move bipartisan, as you said at the top of the show,” Klain said. “The president’s chief economic advisor is meeting by phone zoom today with 16 senators — eight Democrats, eight Republicans. We’re reaching out to people. I don’t think bipartisanship and speed are enemies of one another.”
Klain emphasized the importance of speed in getting something passed by noting the challenges people are facing with high unemployment, food lines, and school closures. “That’s not a party issue” he said.
Todd then asked if Klain would be willing to “table” the push to raise the minimum wage if that would get more Republicans on board with everything else in the bill. The Biden administration is including a $15 minimum wage proposal in the $1.9 trillion bill aimed at helping the economy and people who have been affected by the pandemic.
“Chuck, I’m not going to negotiate on ‘Meet the Press,'” Klain declared.
“Why not?” Todd responded.
“Our goal is to raise the minimum wage. It doesn’t seem like the most effective way to get things done in my view,” Klain responded. “Here is the point though, which is the president put a plan before the country. And I think that’s what the country wanted to hear … We’re very dedicated to passing the minimum wage. We think that’s an urgent priority. We’re going to push the Congress to pass our priorities, and that includes the minimum wage. And so, what we want to do is work with the Congress, reach out to members in both parties, see what can get done as quickly as possible.”
“We certainly think the minimum wage should be part of this urgent relief package,” he added.
It is unclear exactly where every senator stands on their support for the bill. National Economic Council Director Brian Deese will be meeting with a bipartisan group of senators this week to address concerns over it.