CHN: Minimum Wage Bill Hits Possible Snag
The Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2002, introduced by Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Representative David Bonior (D-MI), may find itself in trouble due to timing. The companion Senate and House bills, S 2538 and HR 4799, would increase the minimum wage by $1.50 – from $5.15 to $6.65 per hour – by January 1, 2004. This increase would benefit nearly nine million workers in the United States. Senator Kennedy and fellow minimum wage supporter Representative George Miller (D-CA) met with advocates this week to rally support and encourage movement on the legislation. Miller, acknowledging the importance of the legislation, noted, “It’s about basic decency,” while Kennedy stated, “It’s a matter of enormous need.”
In an effort to win over moderate Republicans and conservative Democrats, Kennedy is trying to partner the wage increase with a tax incentive for small businesses. Finance Committee leadership, however, has not committed to working on the tax incentive portion of the bill. Ranking member Charles Grassley (R-IA) indicated that they might not be prepared to take up the tax issue until the minimum wage bill makes it to the Senate floor. Kennedy and Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) noted concerns about starting the floor debate without the tax piece. With August recess quickly approaching, the legislation may face an uphill battle.