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Dems Begin Minimum Wage Effort

September 23, 1999

WASHINGTON (AP) _ House Democrats began a push Thursday to force their minimum wage bill to the floor as a bipartisan effort on the same issue was moving forward.

``We have the votes to pass a higher minimum wage. The only question is ... when will the legislation come up? When will the Republican leadership stop trying to avoid the issue?″ said Rep. David Bonior of Michigan, the House Democratic whip.

The measure backed by most congressional Democrats and the White House would increase the minimum wage, now $5.15 an hour, by 50 cents an hour in each of the next two years.

Bonior filed papers that allow rank-and-file lawmakers to petition for a vote on the floor.

A bipartisan measure taking shape calls for increases totaling $1.30 over four years. But it also is expected to include a variety of tax breaks and other provisions designed to mollify Republicans who customarily oppose minimum wage increases.

The tax breaks include a provision making health care costs deductible for the self-employed, an increase in the deductibility of meals for certain businesses; a credit to partially offset the cost of wages paid to certain low-wage workers; and a series of pension improvements.

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