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Wal-Mart's CEO: Congress Should Increase Minimum Wage

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) affirmed its support for an increase in the federal minimum wage after its chief lobbyist in Washington was quoted Wednesday as saying the nation's largest employer was neutral on the issue.

Chief Executive Lee Scott, who made headlines last October when he first backed an increase in the $5.15 hourly pay rate, said Wednesday he still supports a raise.

"There are a number of proposals before Congress. Though we do not intend to take a position on any single piece of legislation, we believe Congress should increase the minimum wage," Scott said in a statement.

Wal-Mart says it pays well above the minimum wage — an average of $10.11 an hour for full-time employees in the U.S. Scott said many Wal-Mart customers are low-income families and would benefit from increased wages because they struggle from month-to-month.

Scott spoke after the publication Roll Call quoted Lee Culpepper, Wal-Mart's chief lobbyist, as saying Scott's comments were misinterpreted last fall and that Wal-Mart did not back a minimum-wage increase.

According to Roll Call, Culpepper said Scott in October was only asking Congress to look at the issue, not to raise the minimum wage.

"He said Congress should take a look at it. If reporters want to report differently from that, I can't speak to that," Culpepper was quoted as saying.