D.C. Council Chairman Seeks Votes to Override Living Wage Veto

The battle over Walmart stores in the District may not be decided for many weeks.

Mayor Vincent Gray has indicated he'll veto the bill requiring Walmart and other big-box retailers to pay higher minimum wages, but D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson appears in no hurry to send the controversial bill to the mayor.

Gray is anxious to get his hands on the Council bill he clearly dislikes. It would require large retailers to pay a minimum wage of $12.50 per hour.

“What I really want to say is, Why doesn't the Council transmit the bill, and then we'll get on with this?” Gray said. “I think that's important. You know, people are hanging in the balance.”

Mendelson authored the bill that passed 8-to-5 -- one vote short of the nine votes needed to override a veto.

“I expect that the bill will get to the mayor within the next several weeks,” he told News4.

Several council members say the bill could go to the mayor within 48 hours, but Mendelson hopes to change votes to defeat the expected veto.

Walmart is threatening to pull the plug on its six planned stores -- and hundreds of jobs -- in the District.

Gray will veto the bill when he gets it, seeing it as anti-business when the city desperately needs more jobs and retail, sources told News4 last week.

The D.C. Chamber of Commerce took out a full-page ad in the Washington Post Friday urging Gray to veto the bill, while several dozen ministers called on Gray to let the wage bill become law.

“We cannot allow Walmart to dictate to the city or determine city policy,” said the Rev. Willie Wilson, of Union Temple Baptist Church. “If we allow this, then we have no need for elected officials, and we can open the door for other corporate giants to do the same thing.”

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