U.S. House hikes minimum wage

July 29, 2006 at 11:24 AM
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WASHINGTON, July 29 (UPI) -- The U.S. House of Representatives voted early Saturday to increase the minimum wage for the first time in a decade by $2.10 over three years.

Republicans agreed to the wage increase after pairing it with a cut in inheritance taxes on estates of the nation's richest families, the Washington Post reported. The combination drew loud protests from Democrats.

"This is beyond cynical. This is disgraceful," Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., said.

The House voted 230-180 to raise the $5.15-an-hour minimum wage in phases until it reaches $7.25 by mid-2009.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he would try to scuttle the tax bill when the Senate takes up the legislation next week, the Post said.

"Republicans have made perfectly clear who they stand with and who they are willing to fight for: the privileged few," he said.

House GOP leaders said combining the wage and tax issues was their best shot at getting permanent cuts to the estate tax, a Republican priority.

"It's a risk," House Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said, "but I think it's the only way to proceed."

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