Senate Floor Debate Continues Amid Slight Drop in 2004 Filings
The Senate continued debate this afternoon
on S. 256, with a number of amendments offered. Amendments to exempt members of the armed forces from the means test are pending, as are amendments to the homestead rules. More amendments will be offered regarding medical debts, privacy of financial information, creditor disclosure practices and the so-called Schumer amendment to prevent discharge of certain debts arising from abortion protests.
The Bush Administration has come out in support of the bill as reported by the Judiciary Committee.
At the same time, the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts announced that total new bankruptcies fell by nearly 4 percent during 2004. In January, ABI predicted that filings would continue to flatten out and decline in the fourth quarter of 2004, based on trends in consumer debt and credit card default rates. The latest results are consistent with the forecast, though filings may spike up in early 2005 due to concern over the effect of the bankruptcy bill.
Business filings dropped slightly (2.1 percent) in 2004. Since 2001, business filings have dropped 14 percent. So far this year, only new 15 public companies have filed for chapter 11, the lowest filing rate of new public company cases since 1997.
Coalition Urges House Speaker to Push Bankruptcy Reform
The Blue Dog Coalition, a group of 35 House Democrats from across the nation, has endorsed of H.R. 685/S. 256, the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005, and urged Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) to move quickly in bringing this important legislation to the floor, should it pass the Senate.
The Blue Dogs voted overwhelmingly to pass bankruptcy reform during the 108 th Congress, and have endorsed H.R. 685 this year. “We can all agree that it is important to provide protections for consumers in debt and those with legitimate bankruptcy claims; however, the current system is broken,” says the letter. Read the letter at http://abiworld.net/bankbill/index.html.
To view other letters of endorsement of the bankruptcy bill, and to read about the latest developments, visit http://abiworld.net/bankbill/index.html
Asbestos Bill at Critical Stage, Specter Says
A proposal for a $140 billion asbestos compensation fund will be put in the "deep freeze" unless lawmakers soon agree on the details, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) warned today in an op-ed article in the Washington Times. Specter said the proposal is at a critical stage and would be removed from his committee's agenda in the next few weeks if disagreement continues on the fund's size and other issues. "Now is the breakpoint," he said in the article. "Prompt compromises will have to be forthcoming if this critical legislation is to become law or relegated to the deep freeze." Read the full article.