Changes in the New Congress Could Impact Pace of Bankruptcy Reform Legislation
As predicted, President Clinton vetoed the bankruptcy bill as Congress finally headed out of town in December, leaving proponents to renew their efforts in the 107th Congress. Though the new president is more favorably disposed to the legislation, this may not be true of the new Senate, where a unique "power-sharing" arrangement exists on all committees as a result of a 50-50 Republican-Democrat split. In the Senate, lead sponsor Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) has moved on to chair the Finance Committee, leaving the bankruptcy subcommittee chair to Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.). Sen. Sessions is a strong supporter of the legislation, but it's not clear who will serve as the ranking Democrat. This is key to whether the bill moves quickly in the sharply divided Senate.
In the House, the new chair of the Judiciary Committee, F. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), has identified bankruptcy as one of the issues he intends to move, but Rep. George W. Gekas (R-Pa.), the former lead sponsor of the bankruptcy bill in the House, has been term-limited from chairing the bankruptcy subcommittee. The turnover in personnel in the Senate and House may mean that the legislation may not move as quickly as it otherwise might.