The Senate is expected to debate today a controversial consumer bankruptcy reform bill, though a final vote may not occur until Wednesday.

The legislation would let creditors ask judges to force consumers to repay some of their unsecured debts, rather than discharging them all in bankruptcy.

Currently, only court-appointed trustees may make such requests.

Today's key vote will occur on an amendment by Sen. Edward Kennedy, D- Mass., to raise the minimum wage.

If Senate Republicans garner enough votes to table this amendment, then debate will be begin on more than 20 bankruptcy-related amendments and a final vote on the reform package could occur either late in the day or early Wednesday.

If the minimum wage amendment is not tabled, Senate Republican leaders are expected to drop the bankruptcy bill.

The House approved a similar bill in June.

Separately Monday, lawmakers announced that the conference committee responsible for melding the House and Senate versions of student loan legislation will meet today.

The banking industry backs the House version, which would bar the government from charging lower rates than private-sector lenders on loans students consolidate into a single credit.

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