What: All Issues : Government Checks on Corporate Power : Banks/Credit Card Companies : S. 256. Bankruptcy/Procedural Vote on Motion to Invoke Cloture on Republican-Sponsored Bill to Alter Federal Bankruptcy Rules.
 Who: All Members
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S. 256. Bankruptcy/Procedural Vote on Motion to Invoke Cloture on Republican-Sponsored Bill to Alter Federal Bankruptcy Rules.
senate Roll Call 29     Mar 08, 2005
Y = Conservative
N = Progressive
Winning Side:
Conservative

In this vote, the Senate agreed to invoke cloture (strictly limit debate and the number of amendments that can be offered, and proceed to a vote on passage) on S. 256, a Republican-sponsored bill to alter federal bankruptcy rules. S. 256 would make a number of important changes to the bankruptcy process, including most notably the introduction of a "means test" based on the median incomes of individual states. Individuals who are determined to have sufficient means-assets-would be ordered to repay all debts, while those deemed to have insufficient means would have their debts erased after certain assets are seized. The bill would limit the amount of home equity a debtor filing for bankruptcy could protect from creditors, but it also would allow state "homestead exemptions" to apply. This means that wealthy debtors could buy expensive homes in states that exempted those homes from being considered as part of the means test, thus protecting those homes from creditors even as the debtors claimed inability to pay other debts. Progressives had offered a series of amendments-and at the time of this cloture vote, wished to offer more-to attempt to limit the bankruptcy bill's scope because they viewed S. 256 as benefiting large corporations, such as credit card companies, at the expense of middle and lower-class Americans. They maintained that S. 256 would actually require individuals who deserve full protection in bankruptcy to overcome additional barriers to getting out of debt, like higher attorneys' fees and more paperwork. Republicans countered that the bill would make it harder for those who could pay their debts to escape them. In addition, Republicans were anxious to keep the bill "clean," meaning free from most amendments, because the House had already indicated it would not accept a bankruptcy bill laden with amendment language. A cloture motion requires 60 votes to succeed, and in this vote, several Democrats joined Republicans to invoke cloture successfully. Thus, this vote limited the ability of Progressives to offer additional amendments to further their stated goal of tilting the balance of S. 256 more toward consumers and away from credit card companies and other creditors.

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