Defying predictions that bankruptcy reform was dead for the year, the Senate is expected to vote on the legislation Tuesday or Wednesday.
After nearly a week of negotiations, Majority Leader Trent Lott and Minority Leader Thomas A. Daschle cut a deal that lets each party offer three unrelated amendments. The agreement was essential to getting a vote on the bankruptcy bill before Congress' adjournment, scheduled for Wednesday.
Sens. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, and Robert G. Torricelli, D-N.J., crafted a bipartisan amendment that would require credit card companies to warn customers about the cost of making minimum monthly payments and to provide a standard illustrative example. Consumers could call a toll-free number to find out how long it would take to pay off their balances based on the minimum monthly payment.
The measure is less onerous than previous disclosure proposals, and the industry is not expected to fight it.
"We are going to get a reasonably decent bill out of the Senate," said Philip S. Corwin, a partner with Federal Legislative Associates who represents the American Bankers Association. "It's not as strong as the House bill from the creditors' standpoint," but both bills are better than current law, he said.
The bill is expected to pass unless fights over the unrelated amendments -- such as a minimum-wage hike proposal -- derail it. A conference committee to reconcile the House and Senate versions probably could not meet until next year.
-- Dean Anason