WASHINGTON-The credit union trade associations are not going to let the game slip from their hands now that bankruptcy reform legislation is so close to becoming law. During Congress’ spring recess, from March 21 through April 3, the trade associations are encouraging their members to continue to highlight their support of the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act (S. 256) back in their lawmakers’ home districts. CUNA Vice President of Legislative Affairs and Senior Legislative Counsel Gary Kohn stated, “We are taking nothing for granted during this recess. Even though Steny Hoyer predicted the bill will pass with over 300 votes, we’re not going to sit back during the recess and start celebrating. We remember in days past when the unexpected happened, so we’ve asked all of our members during the recess to continue lobbying hard with their members of the House in an effort to push this bill over the goal line for the final time here.” However, he said he does expect a strong vote on the bankruptcy reform bill when the House returns from recess. NAFCU Director of Legislative and Political Affairs Brad Thaler explained, “The recess is an important time and we’re urging our credit union members to contact their members of Congress when they’re back in their districts, be it in town hall meetings or in the district offices and let their representatives know the importance of bankruptcy reform.” He added, “We’re really close in getting bankruptcy reform here but we need people to make contact and express the case on what bankruptcy reform would mean for credit unions.” The House could vote on the bill as early as April 7, according to credit union lobbyists. NAFCU Senior Legislative Representative Murray Chanow explained that the Judiciary Committee still has to file a report with the House, which will probably happen when Congress comes back into session April 5. Then the Rules Committee has to wait 24 hours and decide the parameters of the rule on the bill. Chanow said he does not foresee any derailments, but you can expect the same amendments that have been offered in the committee and Senate as well as previous years. “At this point, after eight years, I don’t expect anything new to pop up in the bankruptcy process,” he stated. S. 256 has a six-month effective date after being signed into law. “There is a school of thought that once the president does sign the bankruptcy bill, whenever that is,” Chanow said, “that there will be a spike of bankruptcies over the six months prior to the bill becoming official.” But, credit unions will just have to wait and see. He said there will definitely be more marketing by bankruptcy lawyers and others that the law will become harder on filers, “but for the people who truly need bankruptcy, it will not become tougher.” [email protected]

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