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Senate Passes Wage Bill

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Members of the Senate voted 94-3 Thursday for a bill that could increase the minimum wage and also includes provisions that could sharply restrict use of non-qualified deferred compensation plans.

The bill, H.R. 2, would increase the federal minimum wage to $7.25, from $5.15, over 2 years.

The only senators who voted against H.R. 2 were Sens. Thomas Coburn, R-Okla.; James DeMint, R-S.C.; and Jon Kyl, R-Ariz.

Members of the House voted 315-116 to pass their version of the bill Jan. 10.

House leaders have asked members of Congress to avoid expanding the bill with unrelated amendments.

Members of the Senate Finance Committee added tax break provisions to the bill, then tried to offset the effects on the federal budget deficit by adding provisions, such as the non-qualified deferred comp provisions, in an effort to raise revenue.

The non-qualified deferred comp provisions appear on the surface mainly to limit to deferrals to $1 million year, but analysts at the Association for Advanced Life Underwriting, Falls Church, Va., have argued that they could affect moderate-income executives in ways that senators had not expected.

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., a Democratic member of the Senate Finance Committee, said Wednesday on CNBC that members of the House and Senate were likely to change the provisions when they set about reconciling differences between the House and Senate versions of H.R. 2 in a conference committee.

Links to information about H.R. 2 are on the Web at Document Link