Congressional leaders took a big step toward fulfilling a campaign pledge late Friday, reconciling House-Senate differences in their minimum wage bills.
The two chambers split the difference on the size of business tax breaks, ending up at $4.8 billion.
The ideal would have been zero, to reject conservative claims that any raise for low-income workers automatically requires more handouts for business — especially when business have already received hundreds of billions in tax breaks, while the minimum wage has lost value.
But Senate leaders feared a continued conservative filibuster if there were no tax breaks.
Yet after Friday’s compromise, Sen. Charles Grassely, R-Iowa, who has already tried to obstruct the wage bill, sputtered that the tax breaks still weren’t big enough. From CQ Today (subscription required):
“The Senate package was barely adequate,” he said in a statement. “I called it peanuts. The House package was puny. I called it a peanut shell. Now we have a single shriveled peanut. This package is stripped of a lot of meaningful tax relief.”
The wage compromise is to be attached to the Iraq supplemental bill. After President Bush’s expected veto, it’s unclear if Congress will attach it to another bill, or introduce it as a stand-alone legislation.
Grassley did not say if he would filibuster, and risk the wrath of the vast majority of Americans demanding a raise for minimum wage workers.