TIME's John Dickerson says both parties are using the minimum wage issue to gain points in the presidential race. While Republicans are trying to protect small business interests and show that the GOP is in touch with the working man, the Democrats are using the issue to show that the GOP does not care about low-wage workers. "Republicans are trying to create a bill they know the Democrats will oppose; that will allow them to say they offered a minimum wage bill, but the Democrats would not support it." Many Republicans, including Bob Dole, have strongly criticized the increase because they say higher wages will cost jobs. Democrats contend that the 90-cent hike is critical because the $4.25 minimum wage is at a 40-year low in spending power. If the bill passes in the House, it would go to the Senate, where the issue has been equally contentious. Dickerson says the debate may be calmed somewhat by Dole's imminent departure from the Senate. "When the Democrats could argue about the wage increase and at the same time ridicule the GOP presidential frontrunner, it was more powerful. Now that they are just fighting with Senate Republicans, they don't gain as much traction on the national political stage, and have more reason to find a solution." -->
WASHINGTON, D.C.: As a final House vote neared on the minimum wage bill, House Republicans tried to take the teeth out of the Democrat-backed measure by adding amendments exempting small businesses and allowing a 90-day training wage for new employees. Democrats charge that the GOP is trying to sink the bill by adding amendments that will force them to vote against the measure. Despite the highly charged debate, Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich predicted the GOP provisions will not prevent the House from passing the wage increase. Gingrich described the amendments as "very straightforward" and said they would ultimately encourage small business to hire more workers.