The House passed legislation today to raise the hourly minimum wage to $4.55 after rejecting President Bush’s more modest offer of an increase to $4.25, sending the partisan battle to the Senate for another round next month.
The vote was 248 to 171.
“It isn’t enough but it certainly is better than nothing,” House Speaker Jim Wright said of the legislation during a floor speech in favor of the Democrats’ bill.
Passage came after a 240-179 vote to amend the legislation to set the final level of the minimum wage at $4.55 an hour and add a provision allowing employers to pay new entrants in the job market a sub-minimum wage for two months.
Earlier, Bush’s proposal, offered by Republicans as a substitute for the Democrats’ bill, was defeated 218 to 198, with more than 40 Democrats joining the GOP effort.
“I see no defensible argument to say that is adequate,” Rep. Augustus F. Hawkins (D-Los Angeles) said of Bush’s offer of an hourly minimum wage of $4.25 by 1992.
Hawkins was the sponsor of the Democratic bill, which originally called for the minimum wage to rise to $4.65 an hour by 1992. But he supported the amendment rolling back the final target by a dime while at the same time moving the effective dates of the increases forward, each by three months.
Under the amendment, the first increase--from $3.35 an hour now to $3.85--would take effect Oct. 1.