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Minimum wage hike may have strings attached

Federal minimum wage poster

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MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: Cheaper gas would be a welcome relief for everyone, especially workers earning minimum wage. Those workers will have a reason to breathe a sigh of relief today. The Democratic-led House is expected to pass a bill raising the federal minimum wage to $7.25 over the next two years. That's it. No special deals for business. But House Republicans have an alternative minimum wage plan that does provide some small business "sweeteners." Marketplace's Hillary Wicai has more.


HILLARY WICAI: One Republican provision would allow small companies to join together to purchase better health plans. Another is a small business tax break.

Republican Congressman Buck McKeon is from California.

REP. BUCK MCKEON: Small businesses create two-thirds of the nation's new jobs and 98 percent of the new businesses in the U.S. are small businesses. Why would we do anything to endanger their momentum?

But minimum wage proponents, like author Beth Shulman, say businesses have had break after break while the minimum wage hasn't budged.

BETH SHULMAN: It's really absolutely outrageous. Right now we have a law that exempts businesses with sales of less than $500,000 from minimum wage requirements.

Still, the package is a likely preview of what's to come in the Senate. If the slim Democratic majority there wants a wage hike at all, they'll have to compromise.

In Washington, I'm Hillary Wicai for Marketplace.

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