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Democrats push for increase in minimum wage

September 22, 1999
Web posted at: 12:18 a.m. EDT (0418 GMT)

From correspondent Dana Bash on Capitol Hill

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Congressional Democrats have begun an all-out push to increase the minimum wage by one dollar an hour, from $5.15 to $6.15, over the next two years.

Senate Democrats on Tuesday killed a move to bring up legislation to overhaul bankruptcy laws saying they want the right to offer amendments to the bill, particularly to increase the minimum wage.

Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-South Dakota) said they voted against the motion, known as a "cloture motion," because it would have precluded Democrats from adding amendments unrelated to bankruptcy, namely minimum wage.

MESSAGE BOARDS:
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The amendment would raise the minium wage 50 cents per hour next January and 50 cents per hour the year after. That "would provide some $2,000 dollars over the period of the next two years, of purchasing power for those individuals, the approximately 10 or 11 million Americans who would benefit from the increase in the minimum wage," said Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Massachusetts), the bill's chief sponsor.

Republicans consider alternative

Republicans, who realize this is a political hot potato, say they do not necessarily oppose raising the minimum wage, but, according to a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Mississippi), the Democrats are simply trying to "empty out their liberal out-box" onto the bill by plotting to bring up things like gun control and managed health care reform.

A spokesman for Daschle called that "complete spin," saying this is "simply Lott's way of controlling the Senate -- to control it with an iron grip."

Deputy Majority Leader Don Nickles (R-Oklahoma), says Republicans are considering their own measure in answer to a hike in minimum wage, perhaps in the form of tax breaks for small businesses. But he says there is not yet a consensus within the GOP on how to proceed.

House Democrats, led by Minority Whip David Bonior (D-Michigan), are expected to try to force a bill to raise the minimum wage later this week. Bonior is expected to file a "discharge petition," which means that if he gets 218 signatures, the Republican leadership would be forced to bring it to the floor for debate.

Senate Republicans say they plan to bring up the bankruptcy bill, which has some bipartisan support, next week.

"Despite the Democrats' determination to play games with it, we want it to pass," said a GOP leadership spokesman.



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Wednesday, September 22, 1999

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