WASHINGTON

Senate does not raise minimum wage

U.S. Senate proposals to raise the minimum wage were rejected yesterday, making it unlikely that the lowest allowable wage, $5.15 an hour since 1997, will rise in the foreseeable future.

A labor-backed measure by Sen. Edward Kennedy would have raised the minimum to $6.25 over an 18-month period. A Republican counterproposal would have combined the same $1.10 increase with various breaks and exemptions for small businesses.

The Kennedy amendment to a spending bill went down 51-47, and the GOP alternative 57-42. Under a Senate agreement, they would have needed 60 votes for approval.

Kennedy (D-Mass.) said Hurricane Katrina demonstrated the depth of poverty in the country and he pointed out that a single parent with two children working a minimum wage earns $10,700 a year, $4,500 below the poverty line.

He said it was “absolutely unconscionable” that in the same period that Congress has denied a minimum wage increase, lawmakers have voted themselves seven pay raises worth $28,000.

 

SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras

Wilma is fiercest Atlantic hurricane ever

The fringes of Hurricane Wilma lashed Caribbean nations yesterday, forcing schools to close and thousands to evacuate as it churned toward Mexico’s Cancun resort and Florida after killing at least 12 people and becoming the most intense storm ever to form in the Atlantic.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami warned that Wilma would be a “significant threat” to Florida by the weekend in a season that has already seen devastation from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Officials ordered tourists out of the Florida Keys.

“We had well over 1,000 lives lost in Katrina. If Wilma, you know, comes into the U.S., to the Florida coast as a Category 3 or 4 hurricane, that potential for large loss of life is with us,” said hurricane center director Max Mayfield.

The White House, stung by criticism that it had not responded quickly enough to Katrina, promised to stay on top of the situation. “We are closely monitoring what is an extremely dangerous storm,” said White House spokesman Scott McClellan.

 

AUSTIN, Texas

DeLay expected to surrender to police soon

A state court issued an arrest warrant yesterday for Rep. Tom DeLay, requiring him to appear in Texas for booking on state conspiracy and money laundering charges.

The court set an initial $10,000 bail as a routine step before the Texas Republican’s first court appearance tomorrow.

DeLay (R-Texas) could be fingerprinted and photographed, although his lawyers had hoped to avoid this step. DeLay probably will surrender in his home county of Fort Bend, near Houston, but he could go to any law enforcement office in Texas. His court appearance will be in Austin.

The warrant, known as a capias, is “a matter of routine and bond will be posted,” said DeLay’s lawyer, Dick DeGuerin.

 

– Compiled from Daily wire reports

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