The Bankruptcy Reform Bill, pending in Congress since 1997, has finally come out of Conference. The Bill had been stalled since April based upon partisan disagreement concerning the discharge of debts incurred as a result of violence targeted at abortion clinics. According to the Joint Explanatory Statement of the Conference Committee, a compromise was reached whereby a debt would be considered non-dischargeable if it resulted from intentional actions of the debtor, who used force or threaten to use force, to intentionally injure, intimidate or interfere with any person from obtaining or providing lawful goods or services. With the final obstacle cleared, a majority of the House-Senate conferees signed on to the compromise bill, clearing the way for final votes in both houses.

Expectations last Friday were that the House would quickly pass the measure before the summer recess. However, a group of pro-life members, lead by Representative Christopher Smith (R – N.J.), criticized the compromise language believing that it gave too much away. The Bill’s sponsors reportedly withdrew the measure from consideration after losing support among pro-life Republicans, fearing that Democratic support might crumble as well. The House is still expected to take up the measure after its summer recess, which ends after Labor Day.

The Bankruptcy Reform Bill is strongly supported by U.S. banks, retailers, credit card companies and other creditors who have suffered financial loss as bankruptcy filings continue to skyrocket nationally. Opponents, consisting of academics, labor unions and consumer groups, argue that the Bill will make it even harder on individuals suffering from the depressed economy.

Truth in Lending Amendments Included

The Bankruptcy Reform Bill contains numerous amendments to the federal Truth in Lending Act, affecting disclosures applicable to open-end credit and credit extensions secured by a dwelling, that are also of concern to creditors.

If you would like more information regarding the Bill or the included Truth in Lending Act amendments, or if we can be of any other assistance with your consumer or commercial bankruptcy activities, please contact Robin De Leo in our New Orleans office at (985) 727-1664 or [email protected]om .