Mayor Vincent Gray vetoed a bill Thursday that would force Wal-Mart and other large retailers to pay their employees at least $12.50 an hour, calling it a "job killer" that would not advance the goal of a living wage for District of Columbia workers. The bill put Washington at the center of a national debate on how far cities should go in trying to raise pay for low-wage workers _ and whether larger companies should be required to pay more. Supporters _ including unions, clergy and other labor advocates _ said Wal-Mart could afford the higher wages, while opponents said the bill unfairly singled out certain businesses and would have a chilling effect on economic development.

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