What: All Issues : Aid to Less Advantaged People, at Home & Abroad : The Chronically Ill : S. 256. Bankruptcy/ Vote on Amendment to Exempt from Means Test in Bankruptcy Bill Debtors Whose Financial Dilemmas were Caused by Serious Medical Conditions (2005 senate Roll Call 16)
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S. 256. Bankruptcy/ Vote on Amendment to Exempt from Means Test in Bankruptcy Bill Debtors Whose Financial Dilemmas were Caused by Serious Medical Conditions
senate Roll Call 16     Mar 02, 2005
Progressive Position:
Yea
Progressive Result:
Loss

In this vote, the Senate defeated an amendment by Edward Kennedy (D-MA) to exempt persons whose financial dire straits were caused by a serious medical problem from a key provision-a means test-of S. 256, a Republican-sponsored bill to alter federal bankruptcy rules. S. 256 would institute into the bankruptcy process a "means test" based on the median incomes of individual states. Individuals who are determined to have sufficient means-assets-would be ordered to repay all debts, while those deemed to have insufficient means would have their debts erased after certain assets are seized. Kennedy's amendment would have exempted from the bill's means test individuals whose poor financial situation was caused by a serious medical problem. This exemption would have made it easier for them to declare bankruptcy than under the Republican-drafted bill language, because, Kennedy stated, people suffering these problems ought to be protected from "the harshness of the proposed new bankruptcy laws." Kennedy's amendment was one of a series offered by Progressives to limit the bill's scope because they viewed S. 256 as benefiting large corporations, such as credit card companies, at the expense of middle and lower-class Americans. They maintained that S. 256 would actually require individuals who deserve full protection in bankruptcy to meet additional barriers, like higher attorneys' fees and more paperwork. Republicans countered that the bill would make it harder for those who could pay their debts to escape them. In addition, Republicans were anxious to keep the bill "clean," meaning free from most amendments, because the House had already indicated it would not accept a bankruptcy bill laden with amendment language. Progressives' loss in this amendment by a vote of 39 to 58 was one of numerous losses in their attempts to tilt the balance of S. 256 more toward consumers and away from credit card companies and other creditors.

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