Labor Secretary Elizabeth Hanford Dole will outline today a Bush Administration proposal to increase the minimum wage to $4.25 an hour over three years, coupled with a $3.35 hourly “training wage” for some new workers, Administration officials said Thursday.
Dole, in testimony before the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee, is expected to set the stage for a long debate between the Democratic majorities of Congress and the new Republican Administration over the minimum wage, which has stood at $3.35 an hour since 1981.
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), the committee chairman, has introduced legislation to raise the minimum wage to $4.55 an hour over three years, with automatic periodic increases in the future.
But he and other Democrats oppose the sub-minimum wage, which the Administration calls a training wage. Legislation to raise the wage floor died in Congress last year, partly because of a dispute over the training wage.
One Administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Dole will propose that all small businesses be exempted from the higher minimum wage and continue paying the current $3.35 rate.