WASHINGTON-The bankruptcy reform bill (H.R. 333), which has already taken a beating over the last few years of its life, is once again in for an uphill battle. While the number of pro-life Republicans threatening to vote against the bill because of the clinic violence agreement numbered about two dozen before the August recess, they recruited some allies during that time. Meanwhile debtors are declaring bankruptcy at a record pace (see story page 6). According to NAFCU Senior Lobbyist Murray Chanow, approximately 60 pro-life members of Congress have written a letter to Bankruptcy Conferee Congressman Henry Hyde (R-Ill.), who struck the deal, stating that they would like to see changes in the clinic violence compromise before the conference report reaches the floor. The letter has not been made public. Whip counts are being done to determine if the conference report can be passed, Chanow explained. NAFCU Senior Vice President and General Counsel Bill Donovan said he feels the bill still has good prospects for this congressional session. "It certainly appears to us as though there is adequate support among House members and Senators in general to pass the bill. The real issue that needs to be resolved is whether or not the leadership wishes to bring the bill to the floor in its present form with a somewhat divided Republican conference on the issue of the Schumer-Hyde agreement.That decision is going to go a long way in determining the fate of this bill," he remarked. Still, credit unions are very optimistic, CUNA Vice President and Senior Legislative Counsel Gary Kohn said. "The House is hoping to go this Thursday (Sept. 5). If not this Thursday, then sometime early next week. The Senate is ready to roll, but they are going to wait for the House to go first," he explained. "What we have been trying to do is to assure the House leadership that there is enough support for this bill so that when they put it on the floor that it will pass." CUNA Senior Vice President for Government Affairs John McKechnie reminded, "There are other voices that are weighing in against this bill and we've been making it very clear, very consistent throughout August that credit unions are also keeping score here, that we're very much paying attention to how members of Congress vote on this issue. Some members of Congress have indicated that `we love credit unions, but maybe on this one, we might not be able to help you' and we're saying that's not a good answer." Kohn reemphasized that bankruptcy abuse reform is "must do legislation." However, with 13 appropriations bills and the new Homeland Security Department to consider, the bill is up against stiff competition. Lobbyists are now predicting Congress will be in session well beyond the targeted October 4 adjournment and reconvene for a lame duck session. The Senate is waiting on the House to determine its next move, which could take up to a couple weeks. -email@example.com
Bankruptcy battle heading back uphill; credit union lobbyists say they're putting the heat on Congress to deliver
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