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
Democratsa 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
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
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.