Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Minimum Wage Bill Suffers Setback in Senate


Prospects for an increase in the minimum wage suffered a setback today in the Senate, where a move fell short, at least for now, to raise the minimum by $2.10 an hour without tax breaks for small businesses

The 54 “yes” votes were six short of the number needed to shut off debate and move on to consideration of the bill, which easily passed in the House two week ago. That bill would increase the wage to $7.25 from the current $5.15 in three steps, but without tax breaks. Today’s vote, while disappointing to those who want to raise the minimum wage at once and with no accompanying tax provisions, was hardly a surprise. A substantial number of senators had indicated they wanted to tie a wage increase to tax breaks for small businesses, to help offset the costs of the increase.

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All 43 “no” votes on the motion to end debate were cast by Republicans. Five Republicans joined 47 Democrats and two independents in voting “yes.” They were Norm Coleman of Minnesota, Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, John W. Warner of Virginia and Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, both of Maine. (Senator Sam Brownback, Republican of Kansas, and Senators Tom Carper of Delaware and Tim Johnson of South Dakota, both Democrats, did not vote.)

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