WASHINGTON The Senate on Thursday voted 88 to 10 to take the first procedural step toward a compromise with the House on long-stalled bankruptcy reform legislation.
Each chamber passed its own version in March, but a variety of political and procedural issues have prevented them from convening a conference committee to blend the two bills. The vote Thursday cleared the Senate to vote Tuesday on whether to begin debate on proceeding further.
The road toward final passage remains rocky, with Sen. Paul Wellstone, D-Minn., promising to use all procedural means to delay the industry-backed bill.
Senate Majority Leader Thomas A. Daschle was expected soon to name his chambers Democratic conferees. They are expected to be Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, Sen. Charles E. Schumer of New York, and Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware. Sen. Biden is a strong proponent of the bill who would tilt the committee in favor of the measure. Republican conferees are expected to be Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, and Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama.
No official word had been given yet on House conferees from either party.