The Senate rejects an effort to link a cut in inheritance taxes with the first minimum wage increase in nearly a decade.
The measure would have fused a $2.10 increase in the $5.15 minimum wage to reductions in estate taxes.
Democrats say they were put in an uncomfortable position.
Either they could vote against the bill, rejecting a minimum wage increase or they could vote for it and approve tax cuts on multi-million-dollar estates.
Most rejected the bill.