SAIPAN (MARIANAS VARIETY) — The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, which is a US$1.9 trillion economic stimulus package backed by President Joe Biden and the Democrats in the U.S Congress, includes a federal minimum wage hike provision that would apply to the CNMI.
Under the proposal, the minimum wage would almost immediately increase to $9.50 per hour, then would increase annually by US$1.50 per hour until reaching $US15 in 2025.
Asked for comment, U.S. Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan said the CNMI “is not the only jurisdiction seeking some relief from the increases. Some states also want to do so. But…the delay language in the text, for purposes of reconciliation with the Senate, must be removed from the House version so that it can be reconciled with the Senate version.”
Reconciliation will allow the bill to be passed in the U.S. Senate by a simple majority.
Democrats have a slim majority in the House and 50 members in the 100-seat Senate where Democratic Vice President Kamala Harris can cast the tiebreaking vote
Kilili, who caucuses with the Democrats, said he is “introducing a bill this week for an 18-month delay in implementation [of the federal wage hike]. But I am not sure I can move that bill through the House and Senate in time to prevent the first increase from US$7.25 to US$9.50 an hour which should occur in 90 days after the enactment of the bill. But I may be able to offer other staggered increases for the second and subsequent increases.”
Kilili said he will try his best.
He said there is also the possibility that the Senate Parliamentarian will rule that the proposed minimum wage increase violates the budget reconciliation process. “Then no minimum wage increase shall occur unless a separate bill for that purpose is enacted,” Kilili said.
The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 includes US$515 million for the CNMI….. PACNEWS

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