WASHINGTON - House and Senate negotiators were on the verge Wednesday of settling some of their disagreements over bankruptcy reform, but larger political concerns continue to stall the legislation.
House Republicans led by Rep. George W. Gekas of Pennsylvania were expected to make a counteroffer to a 15-page compromise proposal a bipartisan group of senators made last month. Though details were sketchy, sources said the House plans to accept Senate provisions aimed at protecting credit card users from heavy debt and finance charges.
"That is a major hurdle we have overcome," a Senate aide said.
Under the Senate bill, credit card companies would have to warn customers about the cost of making just the minimum monthly payment and to give a standard illustrative example or mathematical table to help them estimate their indebtedness. Those making just the minimum monthly payment could call a toll-free number to find out how long it would take to pay off their balances.
Some nettlesome parts of the complex legislation to overhaul the bankruptcy code remain unresolved, however. Also, the bill is bogged down in the Senate by unrelated minimum-wage and tax-break provisions. It is expected that if a deal is reached on the bankruptcy items, Republican leaders will try to separate these and attach them to a faster-moving bill - a strategy about which financial services lobbyists remain wary. Lobbyists expect the White House to weigh in as early as this week.