What: All Issues : Government Checks on Corporate Power : Banks/Credit Card Companies : S. 256. Bankruptcy/ Vote on Amendment to Exempt from Means Test in Bankruptcy Bill Debtors Whose Financial Distress was Caused by Identity Theft. (2005 senate Roll Call 21)
 Who: All Members
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S. 256. Bankruptcy/ Vote on Amendment to Exempt from Means Test in Bankruptcy Bill Debtors Whose Financial Distress was Caused by Identity Theft.
senate Roll Call 21     Mar 03, 2005
Progressive Position:
Yea
Progressive Result:
Loss

In this vote, the Senate defeated an amendment by Bill Nelson (D-FL) to exempt from a key provision of S. 256, the Republican-drafted bill to alter federal bankruptcy laws, persons whose financial distress was caused by identity theft. S. 256 would create as part of 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. Nelson's amendment would have exempted from the bill's means test individuals whose poor financial situation was caused by identity theft, thus making it easier for individuals in such circumstances to seek the relief of bankruptcy than under the Republican-drafted bill language. Noting that many senators had recently discovered that their personal financial information had been compromised through theft, Nelson argued on behalf of Progressives and many other Democrats that identity theft is an increasingly widespread crime, and that people should not suffer additionally in bankruptcy proceedings if they are forced to declare bankruptcy due to financial charges that were incurred "through no fault of their own." Nelson'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 in this amendment by a vote of 37 to 61 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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