Legislative Highlights Nov 1999
Update on S. 625
Senate sponsors of S. 625 are continuing efforts to break the partisan stalemate that prevented the bill from a vote in September. Sens. Robert G. Torricelli (D-NJ) and Joseph R. Biden (D-DE) sent a letter to both the Republican and Democrat leaders on Oct. 20, urging the leadership to negotiate directly on the scope of amendments to the bill. (The full text of the manager's amendment and the consumer credit disclosure amendment are available online at ABI World).
Relations between Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS) and Tom Daschle (D-SD) have been especially strained in the last month, as each side has alleged bad faith in dealing with such high-profile issues as the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTB) and campaign finance reform (CFR), among other issues. The financial services industry is also encouraging Sen. Lott to find a way to move S. 625 out of the Senate and into a conference with the House on H.R. 833.
In early October, S. 625 sponsor Charles E. Grassley (R-IA) offered Democrats the chance to offer up to three non-germane amendments to the bill, including efforts to reopen the "freedom to farm" law and a proposal to raise the minimum wage from $5.15 to $6.15. Most of the other potential non-germane amendments, such as CTBand CFR, have already been addressed. Meanwhile, talks on a consensus plan to raise the minimum wage have broken down in the House. At issue is the timing for the increase ($1 over two years vs. three years) and the list of tax breaks to accompany the hike. Reaching a deal on the minimum wage is thought to be a key to moving the bankruptcy bill as a "package."
President Clinton signed the latest temporary extension of chapter 12 on Oct. 9. (Public Law 106-70). Chapter 12 will now expire on July 1, 2000 unless made permanent (as provided in both H.R. 833 and S. 625) or extended again.