Federal Minimum Wage Bill Gets Nudge from Iraq War Vote

On March 29, 2007, the Senate passed the Iraq war spending bill that included language that will increase the federal minimum wage for the first time in 10 years. The raise in the federal minimum wage, however, is unlikely to pass with this legislation since President Bush has vowed to veto it since the bill calls for a March 2008 pullout of U.S. troops from Iraq.

The addition of the minimum wage issue to the Iraq spending bill, however, allows House and Senate Democrats to begin negotiations on the size of small business tax cuts that have divided House and Senate Democrats. In early March, House Democrats attached the federal minimum wage legislation to the budget bill in order to speed the agreement between chambers on the size of the package of small business tax breaks.

Although the federal minimum wage increase is likely doomed when the bill reaches the White House, minimum wage supporters see value in its inclusion. Once a compromise on the size of the tax breaks is hammered out, a new minimum wage bill can be brought forward later and possibly passed, either as stand alone legislation or as part of a less controversial budget package.

Bill Samuel, of the AFL-CIO, said “This is a step forward but not a final one.” Samuel predicts another minimum wage bill could be produced by mid-to-late April. By then, the tax-breaks would presumably be worked out between the House and Senate.

Stay tuned...

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