Senate OKs Bankruptcy Bill Minus Health Measures
The Senate, on an 83-15 vote, approved bankruptcy reform legislation yesterday, as Republicans "fought off" amendments favored by consumer groups and some Democrats, including a provision to ease the new restrictions for those with debts resulting from medical bills, the Washington Post reports. The bill (S 420) would "make it harder" for individuals to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which allows individuals to "wipe out most of their debts," and force more to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, requiring them to repay a portion of their debts over five years (Day, Washington Post, 3/16). According to consumer groups, the legislation would buoy credit card companies "at the expense of vulnerable debtors," who may have to file bankruptcy due to medical bills, job loss or divorce (Shenon, New York Times, 3/16). In recent days, Senate Democrats have proposed a number of amendments to "tempe[r]" the bill but have been "rebuffed almost every time" (Gordon, AP/Washington Times, 3/16). Among amendments rejected by the Senate last week was one sponsored by Sen. Paul Wellstone(D-Minn.) that would have allowed those filing for bankruptcy due to "disastrous" medical bills to have "a better chance" of erasing their debts in court than those "filing for other reasons" (California Healthline, 3/8).