- The Washington Times - Friday, April 15, 2005

Congress yesterday ended eight years of debate by passing a bankruptcy reform bill that makes it more difficult for people to walk away from debts, particularly deadbeat dads, compulsive gamblers and habitual shoppers.

The House passed the legislation 302-126 yesterday and sent it directly to President Bush, who said he will sign it.

Republicans said the bill returns the bankruptcy system to its original purpose.

“We must stop abuse. Those who abuse the system make getting credit more expensive for everyone,” said House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, Illinois Republican. “Bankruptcy is for those who need help, not those who want to shift costs to other hard-working Americans.”

Bankruptcy is one of three main pillars of lawsuit reform that Mr. Bush and Republicans have pushed this Congress. The others are an overhaul of the class-action system, which already passed and was signed into law, and medical-malpractice reform.

The Republican-led House, eager to avoid getting bogged down in a House-Senate conference committee to hammer out differences, passed the exact same measure the Senate passed March 10. All 229 House Republicans and 73 Democrats supported the bill yesterday.

“There were three things people really liked in this bill: women and children protections for child support, getting rid of the mansion loophole, and the requirement that if you can file Chapter 13 instead of Chapter 7 [bankruptcy] you must do so,” said Rep. Ric Keller, Florida Republican and member of the House Judiciary Committee, which had jurisdiction over the bill.

Under the new law, judges can force people into Chapter 13 and order a repayment plan. Chapter 7 erases debts entirely after certain assets are forfeited. The legislation establishes criteria to determine delinquent borrowers’ ability to repay debt.

Opponents of the bankruptcy bill, 125 Democrats and the chamber’s lone independent, portrayed the measure as a multibillion gift to corporate interests at the expense of the poor and sick. They said it would remove a safety net for those who have lost their jobs or face crushing medical bills.

The legislation “protects the credit industry at the expense of the consumer,” Rep. Alcee L. Hastings, Florida Democrat, said in House debate. “It will drive more Americans deeper into financial crisis and weaken the nation’s economy and social structure.”

But Democrats were more concerned that the bill is silent on the issue of protecting victims of identity theft from having to pay for items bought fraudulently in their names.

“Identity theft is an issue that came up along the way [eight years] that has now gotten ahead of this bill,” said Mr. Hastings.

“The real argument is we were prevented from presenting it and it is something that would definitely have passed.”

He said he hoped the Senate, which is “currently” crafting legislation to deal with identity theft, will get something out this year that can be passed by Congress with bipartisan support.

Sen. Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania Republican and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said earlier his week that he had reached the conclusion “federal legislation was necessary” to deal with the growing problem.

House Republicans also are concerned about waiting too long to grant protections for theft victims.

“Identity theft is a huge, giant issue,” Mr. Keller said. “I’ve been a victim of it …, and at some point we have to deal with it.”

Mr. Keller said his committee’s consideration of the bill was merely a formality, as members were instructed not to alter the bill from the Senate version, a point Democrats decried numerous times during debate.

“The Republicans are so eager here to get a bill identical to the Senate version, in order to avoid a conference committee and take it directly to the president,” said Rep. Maxine Waters, California Democrat.

After the House voted, Mr. Bush said: “These common-sense reforms will make the system stronger and better so that more Americans — especially lower-income Americans — have greater access to credit.”

Between 30,000 people and 210,000 people — from 3.5 percent to 20 percent of those who dissolve their debts in bankruptcy each year in exchange for forfeiting some assets — would be disqualified from doing so under the legislation, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute.

New personal bankruptcy filings edged down from 1,613,097 in the year ending June 30, 2003, to 1,599,986 in the year ending last June 30, breaking an upward trend of recent years.

BANKRUPTCY ROLL CALL

The House voted 302-126 yesterday to approve legislation to change federal bankruptcy laws.

A ‘yes’ vote is a vote to pass the bill. Voting ‘yes’ were 229 Republicans and 73 Democrats. Voting ?no? were 125 Democrats and one independent. ‘X’ denotes those not voting.

ALABAMA

Democrats — Cramer, Y; Davis, Y.

Republicans— Aderholt, Y; Bachus, Y; Bonner, Y; Everett, Y; Rogers, Y.

ALASKA

Republicans — Young, Y.

ARIZONA

Democrats — Grijalva, N; Pastor, Y.

Republicans — Flake, Y; Franks, Y; Hayworth, Y; Kolbe, Y; Renzi, Y; Shadegg, Y.

ARKANSAS

Democrats — Berry, Y; Ross, Y; Snyder, N.

Republicans — Boozman, Y.

CALIFORNIA

Democrats — Baca, Y; Becerra, N; Berman, N; Capps, N; Cardoza, Y; Costa, Y; Davis, N; Eshoo, N; Farr, N; Filner, N; Harman, Y; Honda, N; Lantos, X; Lee, N; Lofgren, Zoe, N; Matsui, N; Millender-McDonald, N; Miller, George, N; Napolitano, N; Pelosi, N; Roybal-Allard, N; Sanchez, Linda T., N; Sanchez, Loretta, N; Schiff, N; Sherman, N; Solis, X; Stark, N; Tauscher, Y; Thompson, Y; Waters, N; Watson, N; Waxman, N; Woolsey, N.

Republicans — Bono, Y; Calvert, Y; Cox, Y; Cunningham, Y; Doolittle, Y; Dreier, Y; Gallegly, Y; Herger, Y; Hunter, Y; Issa, Y; Lewis, Y; Lungren, Daniel E., Y; McKeon, Y; Miller, Gary, Y; Nunes, Y; Pombo, Y; Radanovich, Y; Rohrabacher, Y; Royce, Y; Thomas, Y.

COLORADO

Democrats — DeGette, N; Salazar, Y; Udall, N.

Republicans — Beauprez, Y; Hefley, Y; Musgrave, Y; Tancredo, Y.

CONNECTICUT

Democrats — DeLauro, N; Larson, N.

Republicans — Johnson, Y; Shays, Y; Simmons, Y.

DELAWARE

Republicans — Castle, Y.

FLORIDA

Democrats — Boyd, Y; Brown, Corrine, N; Davis, Y; Hastings, N; Meek, Y; Wasserman-Schultz, N; Wexler, N.

Republicans — Bilirakis, Y; Brown-Waite, Ginny, Y; Crenshaw, Y; Diaz-Balart, L., Y; Diaz-Balart, M., Y; Feeney, Y; Foley, Y; Harris, Y; Keller, Y; Mack, Y; Mica, Y; Miller, Y; Putnam, Y; Ros-Lehtinen, Y; Shaw, Y; Stearns, Y; Weldon, X; Young, Y.

GEORGIA

Democrats — Barrow, N; Bishop, Y; Lewis, N; Marshall, N; McKinney, N; Scott, Y.

Republicans — Deal, Y; Gingrey, Y; Kingston, Y; Linder, Y; Norwood, Y; Price, Y; Westmoreland, Y.

HAWAII

Democrats — Abercrombie, N; Case, Y.

IDAHO

Republicans — Otter, Y; Simpson, Y.

ILLINOIS

Democrats — Bean, Y; Costello, N; Davis, N; Emanuel, N; Evans, N; Gutierrez, X; Jackson, N; Lipinski, N; Rush, N; Schakowsky, N.

Republicans — Biggert, Y; Hastert, Y; Hyde, Y; Johnson, Y; Kirk, Y; LaHood, X; Manzullo, Y; Shimkus, Y; Weller, Y.

INDIANA

Democrats — Carson, N; Visclosky, N.

Republicans ? Burton, Y; Buyer, Y; Chocola, Y; Hostettler, Y; Pence, Y; Sodrel, Y; Souder, Y.

IOWA

Democrats — Boswell, Y.

Republicans — King, Y; Latham, Y; Leach, Y; Nussle, Y.

KANSAS

Democrats — Moore, Y.

Republicans — Moran, Y; Ryun, Y; Tiahrt, Y.

KENTUCKY

Democrats — Chandler, Y.

Republicans — Davis, Y; Lewis, Y; Northup, Y; Rogers, Y; Whitfield, Y.

LOUISIANA

Democrats — Jefferson, Y; Melancon, Y.

Republicans — Alexander, Y; Baker, Y; Boustany, Y; Jindal, Y; McCrery, Y.

MAINE

Democrats — Allen, N; Michaud, Y.

MARYLAND

Democrats — Cardin, N; Cummings, N; Hoyer, Y; Ruppersberger, Y; Van Hollen, N; Wynn, Y.

Republicans — Bartlett, Y; Gilchrest, Y.

MASSACHUSETTS

Democrats — Capuano, N; Delahunt, N; Frank, N; Lynch, N; Markey, N; McGovern, N; Meehan, N; Neal, N; Olver, N; Tierney, N.

MICHIGAN

Democrats — Conyers, N; Dingell, N; Kildee, N; Kilpatrick, N; Levin, N; Stupak, N.

Republicans — Camp, Y; Ehlers, Y; Hoekstra, Y; Knollenberg, Y; McCotter, Y; Miller, Y; Rogers, Y; Schwarz, Y; Upton, Y.

MINNESOTA

Democrats — McCollum, N; Oberstar, N; Peterson, Y; Sabo, N.

Republicans — Gutknecht, Y; Kennedy, Y; Kline, Y; Ramstad, Y.

MISSISSIPPI

Democrats — Taylor, Y; Thompson, N.

Republicans — Pickering, Y; Wicker, Y.

MISSOURI

Democrats — Carnahan, N; Clay, N; Cleaver, Y; Skelton, Y.

Republicans — Akin, Y; Blunt, Y; Emerson, Y; Graves, Y; Hulshof, Y.

MONTANA

Republicans — Rehberg, Y.

NEBRASKA

Republicans — Fortenberry, Y; Osborne, Y; Terry, Y.

NEVADA

Democrats — Berkley, X.

Republicans — Gibbons, Y; Porter, Y.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Republicans — Bass, Y; Bradley, Y.

NEW JERSEY

Democrats — Andrews, Y; Holt, N; Menendez, Y; Pallone, N; Pascrell, N; Payne, N; Rothman, Y.

Republicans — Ferguson, Y; Frelinghuysen, Y; Garrett, Y; LoBiondo, Y; Saxton, Y; Smith, Y.

NEW MEXICO

Democrats — Udall, N.

Republicans — Pearce, Y; Wilson, Y.

NEW YORK

Democrats — Ackerman, N; Bishop, N; Crowley, Y; Engel, N; Higgins, Y; Hinchey, N; Israel, Y; Lowey, N; Maloney, N; McCarthy, Y; McNulty, N; Meeks, Y; Nadler, N; Owens, N; Rangel, N; Serrano, N; Slaughter, N; Towns, N; Velazquez, N; Weiner, N.

Republicans — Boehlert, Y; Fossella, Y; Kelly, Y; King, Y; Kuhl, Y; McHugh, Y; Reynolds, Y; Sweeney, Y; Walsh, Y.

NORTH CAROLINA

Democrats — Butterfield, N; Etheridge, Y; McIntyre, Y; Miller, N; Price, Y; Watt, N.

Republicans — Coble, Y; Foxx, Y; Hayes, Y; Jones, Y; McHenry, Y; Myrick, Y; Taylor, Y.

NORTH DAKOTA

Democrats — Pomeroy, Y.

OHIO

Democrats — Brown, N; Jones, N; Kaptur, N; Kucinich, N; Ryan, N; Strickland, Y.

Republicans — Boehner, Y; Chabot, Y; Gillmor, X; Hobson, Y; LaTourette, Y; Ney, Y; Oxley, Y; Portman, Y; Pryce, Y; Regula, Y; Tiberi, Y; Turner, Y.

OKLAHOMA

Democrats — Boren, Y.

Republicans — Cole, Y; Istook, Y; Lucas, Y; Sullivan, Y.

OREGON

Democrats — Blumenauer, N; DeFazio, N; Hooley, Y; Wu, Y.

Republicans — Walden, Y.

PENNSYLVANIA

Democrats — Brady, N; Doyle, N; Fattah, N; Holden, Y; Kanjorski, N; Murtha, Y; Schwartz, Y.

Republicans — Dent, Y; English, Y; Fitzpatrick, Y; Gerlach, Y; Hart, Y; Murphy, Y; Peterson, Y; Pitts, Y; Platts, Y; Sherwood, Y; Shuster, Y; Weldon, Y.

RHODE ISLAND

Democrats — Kennedy, N; Langevin, N.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Democrats — Clyburn, N; Spratt, Y.

Republicans — Barrett, Y; Brown, Y; Inglis, Y; Wilson, Y.

SOUTH DAKOTA

Democrats — Herseth, Y.

TENNESSEE

Democrats — Cooper, Y; Davis, Y; Ford, Y; Gordon, Y; Tanner, Y.

Republicans — Blackburn, Y; Duncan, Y; Jenkins, Y; Wamp, Y.

TEXAS

Democrats — Cuellar, Y; Doggett, N; Edwards, Y; Gonzalez, Y; Green, Al, Y; Green, Gene, N; Hinojosa, Y; Jackson-Lee, N; Johnson, E. B., N; Ortiz, Y; Reyes, Y.

Republicans — Barton, Y; Bonilla, Y; Brady, Y; Burgess, Y; Carter, Y; Conaway, Y; Culberson, Y; DeLay, Y; Gohmert, Y; Granger, Y; Hall, Y; Hensarling, Y; Johnson, Sam, Y; Marchant, Y; McCaul, Y; Neugebauer, Y; Paul, Y; Poe, Y; Sessions, Y; Smith, Y; Thornberry, Y.

UTAH

Democrats — Matheson, Y.

Republicans — Bishop, Y; Cannon, Y.

VERMONT

Independent — Sanders, N.

VIRGINIA

Democrats — Boucher, Y; Moran, Y; Scott, N.

Republicans — Cantor, Y; Davis, Jo Ann, Y; Davis, Tom, Y; Drake, Y; Forbes, Y; Goode, Y; Goodlatte, Y; Wolf, Y.

WASHINGTON

Democrats — Baird, Y; Dicks, N; Inslee, N; Larsen, Y; McDermott, N; Smith, N.

Republicans — Hastings, Y; McMorris, Y; Reichert, Y.

WEST VIRGINIA

Democrats — Mollohan, Y; Rahall, Y.

Republicans — Capito, Y.

WISCONSIN

Democrats — Baldwin, N; Kind, Y; Moore, N; Obey, N.

Republicans — Green, Y; Petri, Y; Ryan, Y; Sensenbrenner, Y.

WYOMING

Republicans — Cubin, Y.

Source: Associated Press

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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