Senate Leaders Try To Hold TogetherBankruptcy Coalition

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WASHINGTON - (03/01/05) -- Senate Republican leaders wereworking last night to hold together a group of bankruptcy reformsupporters and keep amendments to the credit union-backed bill to aminimum as the Senate began debate on the long-sought measureMonday afternoon. Democratic senators were vowing to propose dozensof amendments to the carefully arranged package, which credit unionlobbyists were worrying could scotch chances prospects of the billonce the debate moves over to the Senate. That's because they hopethe Senate passes a bill similar to the one passed in each of thelast two congresses, then send the same bill over for a House vote.But if the two chambers pass divergent bankruptcy bills it willrequire that the two versions be reconciled in a so-calledconference comprised of Senate and House leaders, which wouldcomplicate final passage. Sen. Ted. Kennedy, one of the majoropponents of the bill, and several Democratic allies, are planningto propose a variety of amendments to the bill when debate renewson Tuesday that would shift the emphasis on bankruptcy abuse fromconsumer debtors to corporate scofflaws, such as those affiliatedwith the scandals at Enron, WorldCom, Tyco and other HealthSouth.The Democrats are also expected to propose that additional consumerprotections on credit and debit cards, considered one of the majorcauses of consumer bankruptcy, be added to the bill.

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