What: All Issues : Fair Taxation : Minimum wage increase (H.R. 2)/On appealing a ruling that a Republican motion to send the bill back to committee to add tax breaks for small businesses wasn't allowable (2007 house Roll Call 16)
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Minimum wage increase (H.R. 2)/On appealing a ruling that a Republican motion to send the bill back to committee to add tax breaks for small businesses wasn't allowable
house Roll Call 16     Jan 10, 2007
Progressive Position:
Yea
Progressive Result:
Win

This vote dealt with a procedural motion to send a bill to increase the minimum wage back to committee to add small-business tax breaks. The Democratic lawmaker picked by the Speaker to oversee the House floor debate ruled that the Republican motion to send the bill back to committee to add tax cuts was not "germane."

Germaneness, as defined in the House rules, requires that debate and amendments are relevant to the subject under consideration, in this case the minimum wage bill. Questions of germaneness are determined by the Speaker or her designee and are subject to the approval of the House.

The underlying legislation would raise the minimum wage to $7.25 per hour over the next two years, the first increase in a decade. Republicans believed that the increase would have a significant negative impact on small businesses. They wanted to include tax breaks they believed were necessary to offset the impact on employers. The House Democratic leadership had previously expressed its desire to deal with the small business tax breaks separately and pass a "clean" version of the minimum wage hike.

The rules for consideration for the legislation barred Republicans from offering an alternative bill or amendments on the House floor, leaving a motion to recommit as their only parliamentary tool to effect changes to the bill. The motion to recommit would have sent the bill back to the Education and Labor Committee with instructions to add small-business tax cuts.

By ruling that the motion to recommit was not germane, the Democratic leadership was essentially saying that the small business tax breaks were not sufficiently relevant to a bill to raise the minimum wage to merit consideration.

In addition to the small-business tax breaks, the motion to recommit with instructions also included a provision allowing small businesses to band together to buy health insurance. The White House indicated that it supported both provisions. The Republican measure was drafted by Reps. Howard McKeon (R-Calif.) and Jim McCrery (R-La.).

"Small businesses are the backbone of our economy," McKeon said. "They create two-thirds of our nation's new jobs, and they represent 98 percent of the new businesses in the United States. What protection does this bill provide them? None whatsoever."

Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) said that it was more important to pass a clean version of the legislation. "We have waited for over 10 years to have this vote on the minimum wage, a clean vote on the minimum wage for the poorest workers in this country who have worked at a wage that is 10 years old," Miller said.

By a vote of 232-197, the House moved to uphold the ruling of the chair that the Republican motion to recommit was not germane. The House divided on strictly party lines. Thus, Democrats were able to stop a Republican attempt to add small business tax breaks to the legislation, and a "clean" version of the minimum-wage hike moved toward a final vote.

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