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WASHINGTON -- The Associated Press reported that the minimum wage might get a large boost from the incoming Democrats when they control the Congress in January, as politicians, including chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, Senator Edward Kennedy, said that increasing the federal minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25 would be a top priority.
"Americans are working harder than ever, but millions of hardworking men and women across the country aren't getting their fair share," Kennedy said in a speech outlining his legislative agenda. "We're not rewarding work fairly anymore, and working families are falling behind." He added that the federal minimum wage has not increased for nearly a decade.
Ballot initiatives to establish or raise the minimum wage in six states all passed in the most recent election, according to Kennedy.
Additionally, the measure has support on the House side as well. Incoming Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), has listed the increase in minimum wage as an issue to be taken up in the first 100 hours of the next Congress, the AP reported.
Even president Bush showed signs he would consider approving the minimum wage increase last week, in addition to other policies such as an overhaul of the immigration policy and a compromise on the No Child Left Behind laws, the report stated.
Most states maintain their own minimum wage laws, some of which match the current federal wage, and others are higher than it. But opponents to the wage increase believe it halts job creation because employers hire less entry-level workers to compensate for the higher wages being paid, the report stated.