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Reprinted from March 2001 ABI Journal March 1, 2001

Web posted and Copyright © March 1, 2001, American Bankruptcy Institute.

House Panel Clears Bill; Senate Committee Up Next

The House Judiciary Committee approved the "Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act" (H.R. 333) on Feb. 14 by a vote of 19-8. The bill is virtually identical to the measure that was vetoed by President Clinton after Congress adjourned in December. Indications are that the Bush administration will sign the bill if presented in its current form.

Republicans on the committee defeated 15 amendments offered by Democrats on both consumer and business bankruptcy issues, largely along party-line votes, during the contentious session. Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) cut the markup short and moved for final passage after what he believed were dilatory tactics by the Democrats—a move that infuriated the minority. The bill, which is now ready for House floor action, passed in the last Congress with the bipartisan support of more than 300 votes.

An identical bill (S. 220) is awaiting markup by the Senate Judiciary Committee. At press time, the session is to be held over past the President's Day recess and through the end of February. Ultimately, the committee is also expected to approve the bill, although opponents of the bill will offer a host of amendments in the hope of slowing down any fast action. Senate rules give opponents many more opportunities to offer amendments on related and unrelated matters.

Both bills have a 180-day effective date, which applies to cases filed after the date of enactment. Thus, the new law will not apply retroactively or to pending cases.

The House Judiciary Committee also approved a non-controversial bill (H.R. 256) that would temporarily extend chapter 12 bankruptcy protection to family farmers. The law expired last summer. The broader bill permanently extends chapter 12, and will serve as the vehicle for the re-enactment of chapter 12.

 

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