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Presidential Hopefuls Take Differing Views on Bankruptcy Reform

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Democrats running for their party's nomination for president appear to be in disagreement on at least one issue: bankruptcy reform. In the current (108th) Congress, both Rep. Richard Gephardt (Mo.) and Rep. Dennis Kucinich (Ohio) were among the 113 "no" votes in the House on H.R. 975. The bill passed the House by 315-113 on March 19. While H.R. 975 has not yet come up for a vote in the full Senate this Congress, four candidates running for president from the Senate split their votes on S. 420, the prior edition of bankruptcy reform from the 107th Congress.

In a roll call vote on March 15, 2001, Sens. John Edwards (N.C.), Bob Graham (Fla.) and Joseph Lieberman (Conn.) all voted for the bill, which passed by 83-15. Sen. John Kerry (Mass.) voted against the bill. Two Congresses earlier, however, Kerry voted for a similar bankruptcy reform bill (H.R. 3150) in a roll call vote on Sept. 23, 1998. Then-Sen. Carol Moseley-Braun (Ill.) also voted for that bill, which passed 97-1. (The late Sen. Paul Wellstone [Minn.] cast the lone dissenting vote.) On the critical issue of capping the federal homestead exemption, Sens. Edwards, Kerry and Lieberman all voted against a motion to table (kill) an amendment last Congress by Sen. Herb Kohl (Wis.) providing for a hard cap to supercede state law. But Sen. Graham, from a state with an unlimited homestead exemption, voted to table the amendment. Graham was in the minority as the tabling motion failed 39-60.

Journal Date: 
Wednesday, October 1, 2003

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