Democratic Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema voted against raising the minimum wage to $15 on Friday. However, a recently resurfaced tweet from 2014 calls raising the wage a “no-brainer.”
Sinema was one of seven Democrats who voted against an amendment introduced by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) that would add the $15 minimum wage increase back into the coronavirus relief package. The provision, approved by the House, had been removed from the package after the Senate parliamentarian ruled that it did not meet the requirements of the budget reconciliation process.
Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) reshared a tweet from 2014, when Sinema was one of Arizona’s representatives, urging a rise to the minimum wage.
“A full-time minimum-wage earner makes less than $16k a year. This one’s a no-brainer. Tell Congress to #RaiseTheWage!” Sinema wrote at the time, including a link to a petition launched by five representatives—Sinema, Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.), Brad Schneider (D-Ill.)—and two then-candidates, Sean Eldridge of New York and Al McAffrey of Oklahoma. The petition does not set a target amount for the minimum wage, however.
Pocan added “Just wow.” to the retweet.
Pocan’s retweet went viral with over 2,100 retweets and 13,000 likes as of this writing.
Newsweek reached out to Sinema for comment.
In a Friday statement, Sinema suggested that she would not be adverse to voting for a minimum wage increase, but that the Senate should “hold an open debate and amendment process on raising the minimum wage, separate from the COVID-focused reconciliation bill.” She previously told Politico last month that the provision “is not appropriate for the reconciliation process.”
Though President Joe Biden initially included a provision to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour in his American Rescue Plan, the measure proved controversial within the more moderate wing of the Democratic party.
The provision was removed after Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough ruled that it did not meet the requirements of the budget reconciliation process. Budget reconciliation allows a bill to be passed with a simple majority, blocking a potential filibuster. In exchange, according to the Byrd Rule, “extraneous” measures unrelated to the budget can not be included in this process.
The parliamentarian is a non-partisan advisory position, and it is possible for decisions made by the parliamentarian to be overruled by the Vice President. Though there would be no immediate consequences to overruling the parliamentarian, it could set a precedent for future legislation.
“My only vote is to protect the Byrd Rule: hell or high water,” Manchin told CNN in February, “Everybody knows that. I’m fighting to defend the Byrd Rule. The president knows that.”
While Manchin has argued against the $15 minimum wage hike, instead offering a raise to $11 per hour from the current $7.25, Sinema’s comments about raising the minimum wage have focused on the parliamentary procedure. She has declined to give a figure for what she thinks the minimum wage should be, though in a statement Friday she said that “senators in both parties have shown support for raising the federal minimum wage,” and that she will “keep working with colleagues in both parties to ensure Americans can access good-paying jobs, quality education, and skills training to build more economically secure lives for themselves and their families.”
Sinema was in favor of Arizona’s state minimum wage increase in 2016. The minimum wage in Arizona is currently $12 as of January 2020, $4.75 more than the federal minimum wage, but one dollar more than Manchin’s proposal.