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H.R. 2, Minimum Wage Dispuited by Republicans

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Democrats fulfilled another campaign promise the other day when the House of Representatives voted to raise the federal minimum wage to seven dollars an hour over the course of the next two years, but now Republicans are crowing that a provision in the bill exempted American Samoa from the minimum wage raise -- and they blame it on Nancy Pelosi.

Pelosi represents the district where a tuna fishery has its home base, and there are criticisms that Pelosi is playing favorites with the exemption. According to a House member speaking on the floor a few moments ago, American Samoa has its minimum wage regulated by the Department of Labor, which means in reality the current Republican administration is responsible for the issue and that Republicans could unilaterally raise the minimums in that territory if they wished.

Beyond that, it is also a tacit acknowledgment that Republicans did not even bother to read the bill, a fact born out by them not knowing of the provision which was plainly present. The bill as passed by the House also does not represent final legislation on the issue, but only the first step in passage. The Senate must create and pass a similar bill, then both Houses will come together and negotiate out the inevitable differences, only to have them both vote and pass the bill again. It is at that point that the bill will be sent to the President for his signature or veto.

The likelihood of this single exemption surviving the process is not good, and it appears to me that Republicans are simply making waves because they have no power to do anything about a bill they don't like and don't really want. Democrats brought up a hike in the minimum wage several times during the Republican reign in Congress, and rather than work together in substantive collaboration to pass it, Republicans played games by only agreeing to the hike if Democrats agreed to make President Bush's tax cuts permanent, something Republicans -- even with a majority in both houses -- couldn't come together to do themselves.

For the record, I don't approve of the exemption, but President Bush can maneuver around it any time he sees fit, so I'll be waiting.

On a side note, the House Democrats just moved to have the House reconvene on Tuesday, and to dispense with work on Wednesday, giving the House a three-day work week next week. This does not inspire confidence.

On a side-side note, it appears a House representative for D.C. (non-voting I suppose) collapsed and died yesterday on the premises. I have no other information on this.

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The text of this article is Copyright © 2006,2007 Paul William Tenny. All rights reserved. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License. Attribution by: full name and original URL. Comments are copyrighted by their authors and are not subject to the Creative Commons license of the article itself.