According to Associated Press report, the U.S. Senate passed the minimum wage legislation — a mix of $8.3 billion in tax breaks and a $2.10 an hour pay increase for workers. The 94-3 vote approved an increase from $5.15 to $7.25 an hour over two years and extended small business tax cuts.

Democrats would rather move the bill forward without the inclusion of the tax cuts. President Bush, on the other hand, urges the House to support the combined bill.

According to the article:
"The legislation would raise the minimum wage in three steps. It would go to $5.85 an hour upon taking effect 60 days after the president signs it into law, then to $6.55 an hour a year later, and to $7.25 an hour a year after that.

"Besides increasing the minimum wage, the bill would extend for five years a tax credit for businesses that hire the disadvantaged and would provide expensing and depreciation advantages to small companies, including retailers that own their own stores. The tax breaks would be paid for by closing loopholes on offshore tax shelters, by capping deferred compensation payments to corporate executives and by removing the deductibility of punitive damage payments and fines.

"Senators also adopted an amendment that would bar companies that hire illegal immigrants from obtaining federal contracts for up to 10 years. That measure was designed to encourage companies to participate in an employee identification program that can weed out undocumented workers."

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