WASHINGTON - Credit card industry lobbyists say they are confident that Sen. Joe Biden will deliver the tightening of U.S. bankruptcy laws that they have sought for four years.
Sen. Biden, a Democrat from Delaware - the home state of MBNA Corp. and Bank One Corp.'s First USA, among other major card companies - has become the swing vote among 13 senators who will try to negotiate with their House counterparts a final version of legislation next month that would force more consumers to repay credit card and other unsecured debt.
"Biden is the linchpin,'' said Travis Plunkett, a lobbyist for the Consumer Federation of America, a group that opposes the bill as being too harsh on debtors. Industry lobbyists say they are counting on Sen. Biden, a Democrat, to vote with Republicans to keep the bill intact and fend off Democrats' efforts to add consumer protections that the industry opposes.
"We're pretty optimistic it's going to pass pretty quickly,'' said Joe Rubin, who lobbies Congress on the issue for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.