Amendment Still Holding Up Bankruptcy Reform

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Like a multi-headed hydra that won't die off easily, the bankruptcy reform bill is still flapping around while its supporters seek to breathe new life into it.

Democratic Senate leaders are trying to convince New York Sen. Charles Schumer to agree to submit his controversial abortion protestor provision to a straight up or down vote by the Senate, according to several sources. Since a majority of the Senate has already approved the bankruptcy bill it is more than likely they would vote down the so-called Schumer amendment, banning abortion clinic protestors from shielding their assets under bankruptcy, and move to a final vote on the credit union-backed bill.

Otherwise, Schumer and a couple of Democratic colleagues who oppose the bankruptcy bill could use the Senate's arcane rules and filibuster the bill over the provision, which would require 60 votes to bypass. That would be much more difficult to do.

Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, a supporter of the bill, is said to be working to convince Schumer to submit his provision to a straight up or down vote. But because of the importance of the abortion issue, a litmus test for politicians of both parties, it's not clear whether the New York Democrat will go along. And if he does, there may be another opponent of the abortion bill, Russell Feingold of Wisconsin or Richard Durbin of Illinois, for example, who seek to use the Schumer provision or some other provision as a wedge to defeat the bill, again.

The bill, which has passed each of the past two Congresses, has been languishing while congressional leaders seek to resolve this issue. If you recall, this was the way the bill was killed last year, with pro-choice Democrats brilliantly using the abortion protest provision to deflate the bill. Because of the Democrats' refusal to cede the issue, pro-life Republicans, who control the Republican House caucus, would not vote the bill until the language was removed. But the Democrats, who controlled the Senate at the time, would not vote the bill after the Republicans scrapped the Schumer language.

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