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Legislative Highlights

Reprinted from the December/January 2007 ABI Journal  

Web posted and Copyright © December/January 1, 2007, American Bankruptcy Institute.

Democrats Sweep in Mid-Term Elections, Capture Control of Agenda

Consistent with past mid-term Congressional election trends and a growing impatience with the war in Iraq, voters handed over the keys of Congress to the Democrats on Nov. 7. The results are especially significant on the Judiciary and Banking/Financial Services Committees in the House and Senate. In the House, where Democrats now enjoy a 229-196 majority, John Conyers (D-Mich.) replaces James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) as chairman of the Judiciary Committee. Conyers was a vocal and consistent opponent of BAPCPA, while Sensenbrenner was a strong supporter who secured the bill's final passage. At the subcommittee level, Mel Watt (D-N.C.), another sharp critic of BAPCPA, takes over as chair of the Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law, taking the gavel from bill supporter Chris Cannon (R-Nev.). Two Republicans on the full committee who supported BAPCPA will not return in the 110th Congress: Mark Green (R-Wis.), who ran unsuccessfully for Governor of Wisconsin, and John Hostettler (R-Ind.), who was defeated. Elsewhere in the House, Barney Frank (D-Mass.) takes over as chair of the Financial Services Committee, where he is expected to aggressively pursue oversight of hedge funds, now so critical in corporate reorganizations.

In the Senate, the changes will be just as stark: New Chairman of the Judiciary Committee Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) was a sharp critic of the new law. He replaces Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), who helped move the bill on the Senate floor. One BAPCPA supporter, Mike DeWine (R-Ohio), was defeated at the polls. The full committee will have 11 Democrats and 10 Republicans. New members are Ben Cardin (D. Md.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D. R.I.). At the subcommittee level, one of the bill's harshest critics, Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), could take over the chair of the Courts Subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over bankruptcy. He would replace Jeff Sessions (D-Ala.), who was a floor manager in support of BAPCPA. Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) is in line to take over the gavel at the Senate Banking Committee. He not only opposed BAPCPA, but strongly favors many more regulations and disclosures of credit industry practices, including marketing to college age borrowers.


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