A Republican effort to pass a bill cutting taxes on estate inheritance, by piggybacking the measure on top of a minimum wage increase, failed on the eve of the Senate's four-week summer recess.

The bill failed by a 56-42 vote. The GOP had needed 60 votes to move the bill forward, after the House passed the measure a week earlier. Four Democrats joined Republicans in voting for the bill -- Robert Byrd of West Virginia, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Bill Nelson of Florida, and Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas. Two Republicans voted against the bill -- Rhode Island's Lincoln Chafee and Ohio's George Voinovich of Ohio.

The bill could have been one vote closer to passage, but Senate majority leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., a proponent of the measure, switched his vote in order to be allowed to debate the bill again in the fall. The minimum wage hike included in the bill, the first in more than a decade, would have mandated an increase from $5.15 to $7.25 per hour, spread out over the course of three years.

In a 93-5 vote, the Senate did approve pension legislation aimed at improving the chances for more than a million workers of receiving the retirement benefits promised to them. The legislation also provides incentives for young workers to enroll in 401(k) plans.

Previously on WebCPA:

House Bill Ups Minimum Wage, Tacks on Estate Cut (Aug. 1, 2006)

IRS to Thin Ranks of Estate Tax Attorneys (July 25, 2006)Estate Tax Rollback Gets Life in New Bill (June 21, 2006)

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