[JURIST] The US House of Representatives passed two key bills late Friday in a blitz of legislative activity before its scheduled summer adjournment. A measure [HR 4 materials] described by House Majority Leader John Boehner (D-OH) as representing "the most sweeping changes to America's pension laws in more than 30 years" passed 279-131 [roll call; Boehner press release]. The 900-page bill, designed to preserve the workability of traditional employer-employee pension benefits packages while opening new savings options and reducing the likelihood of government bail-outs, drew opposition from some lawmakers - most of them Democrats - who said it gave companies too much leeway to terminate plans and authorized overbroad exceptions for the airline industry in particular, recently beset by a series of employee pension-related legal actions.
Also Friday, the House by a 230-180 vote [roll call] passed a consolidated bill [HR 5970 materials] to increase the federal minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25 over three years and reduce inheritance taxes on wealthy Americans by exempting $5 million of an individual's estate and $10 of a couple's by 2015. Some Democrats balked at the joining of the two disparate measures in a single package, suggesting that it unduly attempted to forced them to approve inheritance measures they opposed. Senate Democratic leaders have already promised to kill the joined bill when it arrives for their consideration. AP has more.