What: All Issues : Justice for All: Civil and Criminal : Equal Access to Justice : S. 256. Bankruptcy/Vote on Amendment to Republican-Sponsored Bill to Alter Federal Bankruptcy Rules to Limit Collections by Credit Card Companies if Those Companies Do Not Have a Policy of Waiving Interest and Fees for Debtors Who Work Out a Debt Repayment Plan with a Credit Counseling Agency.
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S. 256. Bankruptcy/Vote on Amendment to Republican-Sponsored Bill to Alter Federal Bankruptcy Rules to Limit Collections by Credit Card Companies if Those Companies Do Not Have a Policy of Waiving Interest and Fees for Debtors Who Work Out a Debt Repayment Plan with a Credit Counseling Agency.
senate Roll Call 38     Mar 10, 2005
Y = Conservative
N = Progressive
Winning Side:
Conservative

In this vote, the Senate defeated an amendment offered by Daniel Akaka (D-HI) to S. 256 that would have limited credit card companies' abilities to collect accruing interest and fees from consumers unless those companies had a policy of waiving interest and fees for debtors who enter into a consolidated debt repayment plan with a credit counseling agency. S. 256 was a Republican-sponsored bill to alter federal bankruptcy rules. Making the Progressive argument, Akaka argued that credit card companies have decreased the concessions they will offer to consumers who enter into consolidated debt repayment programs, and that this reluctance to offer incentives has contributed to the climb in personal bankruptcy filings. He noted that, "[a] large body of research, conducted by such entities as the Congressional Budget Office and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, shows that aggressive lending practices by credit card issuers have contributed to the current high level of bankruptcies in this country. Credit card companies have an obligation to ensure that effective alternatives are readily available to the consumers they aggressively pursue." Republicans responded that passage of the amendment would represent "a sweeping change in modern banking practices," (Richard Shelby (R-AL)), as it would require a credit card company to stop charging interest on debt if the debtor was in a credit counseling program. Akaka's amendment was one of a series offered by Progressives to limit the 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 get 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. Progressives' loss on this amendment by a vote of 38 to 61 was one of numerous losses in their attempts to tilt the balance of S. 256 more toward consumers and away from credit card companies and other creditors.

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