The U.S. Senate shot down an attempt to add legislation to S. 896—the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Act—that would have empowered bankruptcy judges to modify mortgage loans. Amendment 1014 failed in a 45-51 procedural vote. The Obama Administration ostensibly supported the cram-down amendment, which was sponsored by Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), but it didn’t lobby much for the measure. The lukewarm support may have had something to with fears of a sudden glut of bankruptcy filings by troubled borrowers, on top of concerns about the potential harm to the sanctity of contract law.
In the House, H.R. 627, a.k.a the Credit Cardholder’s Bill of Rights of 2009, passed by lopsided 356-70 vote. The bill benefited from strong White House support. Treasury secretary Timothy Geithner was full of praise: “We need new common sense rules of the road to establish a more fair, transparent, simple consumer credit market,” he said in a formal statement. “This bill is a major step toward that goal.” Geithner is eager to work “with Congressional leaders on further reform,” according the statement.
Sen. Chris Dodd waxed enthusiastic, too. “Now it is the Senate’s turn to act,” he said. It remains to be seen whether Geithner was talking about Dodd’s Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure Act, now before the Senate, when he talked about further reform.