Democrats, renewing a fight with President Bush that they have lost once this year already, are trying to increase the minimum wage without the lower pay scale for all new workers demanded by Mr. Bush. On a party-line voice vote on Sept. 19, the Democratic-controlled House Education and Labor Committee bowed to Bush's demand for an increase only to $4.25. But the bill would raise the minimum wage in two years instead of three and would set a subminimum wage only for first-time workers.

Labor Secretary Elizabeth Dole repeated Bush's vow to veto any bill that raises wage floor to $4.25 in less than three years or that does not set a lower floor for newly hired workers.

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