U.S. House Passes Minimum Wage Bill; Measure Moves to Senate

The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday passed legislation boosting the federal minimum wage. The bill moves to the Senate, where Democrats also intend to add billions of dollars in tax breaks to businesses, The Associated Press reports.

“Let us raise the minimum wage. Let us help small businesses cope,” Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., reportedly said.

The bill is accompanied by a multi-billion-dollar package of tax breaks aimed at businesses who hire low income workers, the restaurant industry, and others, the AP reports.

House Democrats, with help from 82 Republicans, overwhelmingly passed legislation Wednesday that would eventually lift the minimum wage by $2.10 an hour, the first increase in a decade, the AP reports. It didn’t include any tax breaks to help temper the sting of higher labor costs to businesses.

The bill now moves to the Senate where Democrats have a fragile majority and many of them favor the tax breaks.

The White House reportedly indicated that it would support a lift in the minimum wage as long as it as paired with “tax and regulatory relief to help small businesses stay competitive and to help keep the economy growing.”

Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has signaled that Democrats will accept business-friendly amendments, the AP reports.

Baucus is working on a package with between $8 billion and $10 billion in relief over 10 years, the AP reports. Provisions being eyed for the package include a tax credit for employers who hire disadvantaged workers and faster depreciation for restaurant improvements, among other things.

The final minimum wage package will be ironed out in negotiations between the two chambers.