President Biden told a group of political leaders that he does not see the proposed minimum wage hike passing as he prepares to use reconciliation to pass his coronavirus relief bill, a source present during the discussion confirmed to FOX Business.
The comments arose during a meeting between Biden and a bipartisan group of mayors and governors in the oval office on Feb. 12. Biden discussed his $1.9 trillion COVID relief package, which includes a mandate to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.
Biden told officials that it "doesn’t look like we can do it."
"I really want this in there but it just doesn't look like we can do it because of reconciliation," Biden told the group, according to the source. "I’m not going to give up. But right now, we have to prepare for this not making it."
Politico initially reported the conversation, citing two individuals present.
The gathered officials included New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, as well as Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez and Arlington, Texas, Mayor Jeff Williams.
Hogan told the other leaders that he didn’t think the wage hike was directly related to the problems caused by the pandemic. Biden reportedly did not push back at the time.
The push for a $15-an-hour minimum wage provision has been divisive, with Democrats split over whether to support the measure.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., has strongly supported the measure, recently saying that Democrats were "feeling really good" about passing it. However, more moderate Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., have both said they oppose including the wage hike in the stimulus 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 published last week.
Meanwhile, Republicans have consistently opposed any wage hike, arguing that it will add an undue strain to small businesses already struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
During an appearance on "America’s Newsroom," Corina Morga, owner of C.R. Construction, explained that companies like hers would inherit the cost from the mandate, thus putting a hiring freeze on projects as small businesses are priced out of local contracts.
"When we are talking about wealth and equity for minority businesses like myself, you know small businesses are the way to get there," said Morga during an interview with Bill Hemmer. "We’re the economic drivers of this economy so to cut us out with this policy is insanity."
Fox News' Kristin Fisher, Brie Stimson and Nikolas Lanum contributed to this report.