Senate rejects two proposals to raise minimum wage

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Senate lawmakers rejected two partisan measures that would have raised the minimum wage above $5.15 per hour.

A Democratic proposal would have increased the amount by $2.10 over the next 26 months, while a Republican proposal offered a smaller increase of $1.10 in two steps over 18 months. Republicans said their measure would help workers without impeding the creation of jobs needed to help those with low skills.

The Democratic proposal was defeated 49-46, while the Republican bill collapsed by a margin of 61-38. Many entry-level nursing home positions pay at or near the minimum wage. With Republicans ruling in both the House and Senate, it's unlikely the issue will be revisited during the current Congress. But Democrats are expected to push for the first increase since 1996.

"I believe that anyone who works 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year should not live in poverty in the richest country in the world," said Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA), who argued on behalf of the Democratic proposal.