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US Senate Rejects Bill to Raise Minimum Wage, Cut Estate Taxes

The U.S. Senate has rejected a Republican-sponsored bill that would have raised the U.S. minimum wage and cut inheritance taxes on multimillion dollar estates.

The measure needed 60 votes for final congressional approval, but fell four votes short, with 56 senators voting in favor of the bill and 42 against.

The bill would have increased the hourly minimum wage for U.S. workers from $5.15 an hour to $7.27 over the next three years.

Opposition Democrats have been calling for an increase in the minimum wage, which has not been raised since 1997. But many of them denounced the bill as a cynical ploy to achieve a cut in the estate tax, which is a major goal for conservative Republicans.

Republicans say the estate tax - which they have dubbed the "death tax" - makes it impossible for many Americans to pass on their family-owned businesses to their children.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.