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Senate Ethics bargain may jeopardize minimum wage increase

Brian Beutler
Published: Friday January 19, 2007
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An increase in the Federal minimum wage--one of Democrats' biggest campaign platforms in the November elections--may be at risk because of a Democrat-brokered compromise that allowed the Senate Ethics Reform Bill to pass, RAW STORY has learned.

After failing to pass in a vote on Wednesday night, the Senate Ethics Bill sailed through on the floor of the Senate late last night.

The bill, similar in many ways to the House Ethics Reform package which passed earlier this month, nearly went down to defeat after Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) threatened to block an amendment introduced by Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH) that would have given President Bush line-item veto power.

However, in an agreement reached Thursday night, Democrats promised to vote on the line-item veto amendment as part of the debate over the minimum wage increase bill that will soon appear on the floor of the Senate.

That bargain may upset House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) who has stated publicly that she wants the minimum wage legislation to be free from unrelated amendments.

Aides for Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) is also on record desiring a minimum wage bill “free of any baggage.”

House leadership has been outspoken about their desire for a clean minimum-wage bill. In December, the House delayed a Cost of Living Adjustment for both themselves and members of the Senate as a gesture designed to highlight their intent to raise the minimum wage. The intent was to forestall a raise in congressional pay until after a minimum wage increase had been signed into law.

Now, some worry that the increase might be in jeopardy.

The ethics bill—now free of both the line-item veto amendment and of a controversial section that would have required some grassroots organizers to register as lobbyists—passed easily by a vote of 96-2,