What: All Issues : Housing : Preventing Bank Foreclosures on Homes : S. 256. Bankruptcy/Vote on Amendment to Make Several Changes to Republican-Sponsored Bill to Alter Federal Bankruptcy Rules Designed to Ease the Burden of Bankruptcy Filings on Children and Families. (2005 senate Roll Call 34)
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S. 256. Bankruptcy/Vote on Amendment to Make Several Changes to Republican-Sponsored Bill to Alter Federal Bankruptcy Rules Designed to Ease the Burden of Bankruptcy Filings on Children and Families.
senate Roll Call 34     Mar 09, 2005
Progressive Position:
Yea
Progressive Result:
Loss

In this vote, the Senate defeated an amendment offered by Christopher Dodd (D-CT) to S. 256 that would have made several changes to the bill designed to ease the burden of bankruptcy filings on children and families. S. 256 was a Republican-sponsored bill to alter federal bankruptcy rules. On behalf of most Democrats, including Progressives, Dodd argued that children often suffer greatly when their parents or single parent file for bankruptcy, and allowances should be made in the bill so that innocent children would not have to suffer needlessly due to their parents' financial misfortune. According to Dodd, the amendment would have allowed "greater flexibility and reasonableness" in calculating the bill's "means test" for bankruptcy filers. (S. 256 would impose a "means test" based on the median incomes of individual states on bankruptcy filers, meaning that 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.) This enhanced flexibility would then have enabled parents or a parent to be able to support their children "through a bankruptcy." In other words, expenses such as the cost of continuing parochial school education, "expenses associated with employment, such as child care," and other like expenses would be allowed to continue. The amendment would have "allow[ed] alimony and child support to be used as intended to cover the needs of children in the household" and permitted debtors to keep goods typically found around the home that have no resale value. Republicans countered that this amendment was far too broad in its scope, altering the entire means test at the heart of the bill and disturbing the careful compromise on the means test, which resulted from much negotiation. Dodd's amendment was one of a series offered by Progressives to limit the bill's scope because overall, 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 overcome additional barriers to getting out of debt, like higher attorneys' fees and more paperwork. Republicans countered that the bill would curb abuses of the bankruptcy system by making 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 on this amendment by a vote of 42 to 58 kept specific provisions designed to protect children when their families are going through bankruptcy out of the bill. This vote was one of numerous losses in Progressives' attempts to tilt the balance of S. 256 more toward consumers and away from credit card companies and other creditors.

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