The prospect of Senate passage this fall of bankruptcy reform legislation all but died Thursday as Congress was poised to pass the final federal spending bill and adjourn until January.
Senate Minority Leader Thomas A. Daschle told reporters that the Republican leadership told him it has "no intention of going back to bankruptcy" before lawmakers leave. The House was expected on Thursday to approve a nearly $400 billion budget deal with the White House, and the Senate could debate it until as late as Saturday.
Sources said it was still possible that the Senate could vote on the bankruptcy legislation if lawmakers stay in session long enough, but most said that is unlikely because of controversy over two Democratic amendments. Sponsored by Sens. Charles E. Schumer of New York, Diane Feinstein of California, and others, the amendments would prevent handgun makers or attackers of abortion clinics from escaping liability claims by filing bankruptcy.
"The people who have those amendments do not like the bankruptcy bill in its current form," said Beth L. Climo, a lobbyist for the American Bankers Association. "I would give this thing a lot less than fifty-fifty at this point."
The Senate is expected to continue debate next year on the bill, which is intended to stem the tide of consumer bankruptcy filings by making it harder for borrowers to eliminate their debts in Chapter 7. Lenders want the bill to move forward but are concerned about changes made during recent deliberations such as an amendment that would expand bankruptcy protections for farmers. The House passed a stricter version in May that is favored by the financial industry.
-- Dean Anason