No Diversion For BankruptcyBill

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WASHINGTON - (03/08/05) -- Senate Republicans turned away a bidby Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy to add an amendment to increase theminimum wage to the bankruptcy reform bill Monday, keeping the billon the straight path to expected passage later this week. Kennedydenied his initiative was aimed at diverting debate on the bill andsaid the first increase in the minimum wage in eight years wouldhelp many of the people the bankruptcy reform bill is expected tohurt the most. "We can afford billions of dollars for the creditcard companies, and I mean billions of dollars, but we can't affordan increase in the minimum wage," Kennedy said of his proposal tolift the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour from the current $5.15.Senate Republicans proposed their own smaller increase in theminimum wage to $6.25 an hour which would have also eliminatedmillions of workers form eligibility, but that proposal was alsodefeated. Senate supporters of the credit union-backed bankruptcybill hope to pass a bill with few amendments, which would enablethe House to quickly pass the same bill, as House leaders havevowed to do. The would eliminate the need to hold a conferencebetween Senate and House leaders to reconcile separate versions ofthe bill--which is where the bill got hung up in each of the lasttwo congresses.

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