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476

Mr. SCOTT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, the rest of the reading would have said that the court may not dismiss or convert a case based on any form of means testing if the substantial portion of the indebtedness was incurred as a result of illness of the debtor, a dependent of the debtor or the debtor's spouse if not the dependent of the debtor.

Mr. Chairman, we're talking about bankruptcy abuse. Bankruptcy filings have increased lately in recent years, and some of the people who file for bankruptcy haven't been financially responsible, but the more likely explanation is that the consumer bankruptcy results were something beyond their control such as a divorce, major illness or job loss.

The truth is that many people are just one paycheck away or a job loss away or an uncovered medical catastrophe away from bankruptcy. We know at the present time there are about 1.5 million people who go into bankruptcy every year. Half of those people who go into bankruptcy go into bankruptcy because of medical bills. About three-fourths of those who go into bankruptcy because of medical bills even have insurance. But nonetheless the explosion of health care costs have added such a burden to these families that they've ended up in bankruptcy.

Mr. Chairman, if the purpose of the legislation is to deal with spendthrifts who are abusers of credit, we ought to distinguish them from the hard working Americans, basically middle class working families who have health insurance, or those on the right of the margin who wish they had health insurance, and those who are irresponsible in acquiring debt.

Mr. Chairman, if we don't adopt this amendment we'll be sending the message that if you get sick, you're abusing the system. Mr. Chairman, we need to make sure that individuals who are afforded the protection of Chapter 7 bankruptcy, if a substantial portion of their bills were incurred as a result of illness, and I would hope we would adopt the amendment.

Chairman SENSENBRENNER. Gentlemen from Utah.

Mr. CANNON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. If I might ask, Mr. Scott, on line 3 it says "on any form of means testing if, the a substantial portion," but I take it the comma and the "the" should be stricken? I don't know that it makes sense otherwise.

Mr. SCOTT. Yes, Mr. Chairman. I think the after—"if" the comma should not be there.

Mr. CANNON. And the "the" should not be there either?

Mr. SCOTT. If the—right.

Mr. CANNON. So it means testing——

Chairman SENSENBRENNER. Without objection the amendment is modified.

Mr. SCOTT. To delete the comma and the "the" on line 3.

Chairman SENSENBRENNER. Gentleman from Utah.

Mr. CANNON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Again we're dealing with issues that are similar to what we just dealt with prior to the last amendment, and I'm not going to belabor it except to encourage my—Members of the Committee to vote against this amendment. It prevents the—which prevents the case filed by a debtor from being dismissed under the means test. The special circumstances provision in section 102(a) addresses the concerns that are raised by this amendment I believe, and the

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


477

amendment does not address circumstances where the debtor is currently healthy, and what happens if the debtor's a millionaire? That we're not dealing with—that's been raised significantly here.

This is on page 12 of the bill. The paragraph beginning with line 5 deals with those special medical—those circumstances such as a serious medical condition which I think deals with this issue appropriately.

Mr. SCOTT. Would the gentleman make that citation again, please?

Mr. CANNON. Yeah. On page 12 of the printed bill, it's a—line 5, capital B(i) or 1, and it's really line 7 that says "such as a serious medical condition" is one of those special circumstances. So I think that we've actually dealt with this issue in this bill. So I would encourage the Members of the Committee to vote against this amendment, and yield back the balance of my time.

Chairman SENSENBRENNER. The question is on the adoption of the amendment offered by the gentleman from Virginia, Mr. Scott. Those in favor will say aye.

Opposed, no.

The noes appear to have it. The noes have it and the amendment is not agreed to. Are there further amendments?

Mr. SCOTT. Mr. Chairman?

Chairman SENSENBRENNER. The gentleman from Virginia, Mr. Scott.

 

 

 

 


Mr. SCOTT. I have an amendment at the desk, 003.

Chairman SENSENBRENNER. The clerk will report the amendment.

Mr. SCOTT. And, Mr. Chairman, under the—in light of the actions of the majority I'd want to take up 005 at the same time and take them en bloc.

Chairman SENSENBRENNER. The clerk will report amendments 003 and 005, and while the clerk is doing that, the staff will distribute both amendments. The clerk will read.

The CLERK. Amendment to S. 256 offered by Mr. Scott of Virginia. Page 13, after line 23, insert the following (and make such technical and conforming changes as may be appropriate:) E, subparagraphs (a) through (c) shall not apply and the court may not dismiss or——

Chairman SENSENBRENNER. Without objection the amendments will be considered en bloc and without objection the amendments will be considered as read, and the gentleman from Virginia is recognized for 5 minutes.

[The en bloc amendments follow:]

 

 

 

 




480

Mr. SCOTT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. 003 allows a spouse to file for bankruptcy if their—a person to file for bankruptcy if their spouse—if a substantial of the bills are due to business losses incurred by a spouse who has died or deserted. For example, if a wife co-signs some business loans on behalf of her husband, and the husband—the business fails because the husband died or disappears and deserts the wife, the wife is left holding the bag and bills she can never pay.

The bill would deny bankruptcy relief for the spouse if the person is making more than the median amount, say, $50,000. If they co-signed $500,000 worth of bills that spouse would be left holding the bag and unable to declare bankruptcy. If they can pay a couple hundred dollars a month, $10,000 over 5 years, they would not be able to file bankruptcy. That essentially means that everything over food and rent would be garnisheed from the person because they had the bad judgment to co-sign their spouse's business loans. It may be bad judgment but it's certainly not abusive.

The other amendment, Mr. Chairman, is if your bills are due, if you've gotten into financial difficulty because you lost your job through no fault of your own, you shouldn't be denied the opportunity to file for bankruptcy. After Enron and WorldCom we found that a lot of people lose their jobs through no fault of their own because their companies went bankrupt. Traditionally in the midst of—or if it's a downward economy, traditionally we deal with widespread job loss by protecting the employees by doing such things as extending unemployment benefits. Now we're punishing the employee by protecting the creditors and bills they can't pay. American families would be well served if Congress addressed the widespread economic insecurity that households face rather than close this door to an option of last resort.

Mr. Chairman, this job loss amendment would apply if the indebtedness was a result of unforeseen loss of employment through no fault of the debtor. So, Mr. Chairman, we should not deny bankruptcy relief if you lose your job through no fault of your own, or because you had the bad judgment to co-sign your spouse's business loan and you got deserted, or the spouse died and the business went under.

I would hope the we would adopt these two amendments.

Chairman SENSENBRENNER. The gentleman yield back?

Mr. SCOTT. I yield back. Thank you.

Chairman SENSENBRENNER. The gentleman from Utah, Mr. Cannon.

Mr. CANNON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I'm working hard on understanding this. As the other side knows, I'm a slow reader and relatively dim-witted, and I'll acknowledge that but still try and help get an understanding of where we're going and why I don't think these amendments are necessary.

As I understand this, this would create an exemption to the needs based test as a grounds for dismissal so people would not be dismissed if this happened. I have a couple of problems with them in particular. In first place they are vague, so that what if the debtor is Mr. or Mrs. Trump or a widowed Mr. or Mrs. Trump? Why are we dealing with business losses in the first——

Mr. SCOTT. Will the gentleman yield on that point, on that point?

Mr. CANNON. Certainly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


481

Mr. SCOTT. If it's Mrs. Trump and she's co-signed the bills and he deserts here and she's left with billions of dollars or indebtedness, she would be unable to file for bankruptcy because she can pay $2,000 a year for the next 5 years.

Mr. CANNON. I think this amendment, as I understand it, Mr. Scott, is dealing with the same section and deals with a similar situation as the last amendment, and I believe that that would be taken care of by the special needs section that we just quoted a few moments ago, so that we already have the situation where the debtor can be discharged of the indebtedness under these circumstances as I read them.

Mr. SCOTT. So a spouse deserting you as part of a special circumstance is defined?

Mr. CANNON. If you're looking at that section B(i), and as you go down to line 9, to the extent that such special circumstances that justify additional expenses or adjustments of current monthly income for which there is no reasonable alternative. So if a spouse dies, if there's a huge business debt, I believe that would be covered by the language that is currently in the bill, and specifically the job loss. So you have adjustments of current monthly income which is job loss, as I read——

Mr. SCOTT. Would the gentleman yield?

Mr. CANNON. Certainly.

Mr. SCOTT. Is it your statement that the legislative intent of the bill is to cover people in this—as a special circumstance who lose their job through no fault of their own?

Mr. CANNON. Well, I think yes. I'm comfortable with that given the language of the section on line 10 that justifies. So you have to prove it, but I think that's a relatively straightforward process and deals with the issues that you've—that you're suggesting here, and so I would ask my colleagues on the Committee to reject these amendments, and yield back the balance of my time.

Chairman SENSENBRENNER. The question is on the amendments en bloc offered by the gentleman from Virginia, Mr. Scott. Those in favor will say aye.

Opposed, no.

The noes appear to have it, the noes have it. The amendment's not agreed to.

Are there further amendments?

Mr. MEEHAN. Mr. Chairman?

Chairman SENSENBRENNER. The gentleman from Massachusetts, Mr. Meehan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Mr. MEEHAN. Mr. Chairman, I have an amendment at the desk.

Chairman SENSENBRENNER. The clerk will report the amendment.

Mr. MEEHAN. Designated 001, Conyers 001.

The CLERK. Amendment to S. 256 offered by Mr. Meehan. Page 13, strike lines 14 through 23, and insert the following (and make such technical and conforming changes as may be appropriate:) D, subparagraphs (a) through (c) shall not——

Chairman SENSENBRENNER. Without objection the amendment will be considered as read, and the gentleman from Massachusetts is recognized for 5 minutes.

 

 


482

[The amendment follows:]


483

Mr. MEEHAN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. This amendment is intended to protect injured or disabled veterans from the harsh and humiliating procedures established for debtors under the newly established means test.

This bankruptcy bill is based on the presumption that people who go into bankruptcy are just trying to abuse the system, and that's why it sets up an artificial means test to prevent people from trying to get a fresh start under Chapter 7. I believe that members of the military who swear to defend this country and risk their lives overseas, the presumption should be that they are responsible people. And so this amendment aims to exempt, all veterans returning home disabled, from the artificial means test.

According to the GAO in recent years about 16,000 active duty service members have filed for bankruptcy annually. But with our military extended from Iraq to Afghanistan and reservists separated from their families and jobs for long stretches of time, that number is sure to increase.

There were efforts in the Senate to protect all service members from the means test and the abusive practices by lenders, but many of them were turned back. Ultimately the Senate agreed on a more narrowly tailored protection for only disabled service members. The Senate amendment said that disabled veterans filing for bankruptcy, whose indebtedness occurred primarily while on active duty are exempt from means test. But the Senate amendment fails to exempt disabled service members who accumulated, amounted debt after their return home but because of the injury or the disability sustained while on active duty.

We all know that the members of the military who serve oftentimes have injuries that are diagnosed when they get back to the United States. There's been a lot of attention on PTSD, post traumatic stress syndrome. This amendment builds on the Senate compromise. It protects disabled veterans whose indebtedness occurred while on active duty as well as those whose indebtedness primarily as a result of their injuries or disabilities. More than a million service members have served in Iraq. More than 11,000 have been wounded. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, 16 percent of Iraq combat veterans are returning home with post traumatic stress disorder or other psychological conditions.

Now, I've gone to Walter Reed Hospital and visited kids who are missing arms and missing legs. They're struggling to recover. They might be unable to work for months or years, and they may have enormous personal costs associated with their ongoing medical treatments. This means test in this bill establish its completely arbitrary cost for expenses that have nothing to do with the kinds of new expenses that disabled service members might actually be facing. All this amendment does is protect the rights that disabled service members have when they file for bankruptcy. It gives judges the discretion to determine whether they should be eligible for Chapter 11, Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, and does not presume that they are trying to game the system.

I urge my colleagues to adapt—to adopt this amendment, and I urge them to look at the language that we're talking about, the indebted—what the Senate language says is the indebtedness occurred primarily during a period when he or she was in active duty. This language simply says that the indebtedness occurred

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


485

primarily as a result of an injury or disability resulting from active duty. Clearly, a minimum we ought to be able to do for a man or a woman who's injured in Iraq, who comes home only to find out they have injuries that they weren't aware of, that we can excuse them from this means test, this arbitrary means test set up in this bill.

Now, surely, even a rush to get this bill out no matter what the amendments that are offered, surely we can consider this amendment.

Mr. CONYERS. Would the gentleman yield?

Mr. MEEHAN. I would yield to the ranking——

Mr. CONYERS. I only want to underscore the importance of us supporting those members of the armed services who are not just protecting us but putting their lives at risk in an effort to fight a very difficult kind of war, unlike any that we've been forced to deal with before. And I concur completely in the excellent way that he has put forward the logic in this amendment.

Chairman SENSENBRENNER. The time of the gentleman has expired.

Mr. MEEHAN. And again, it's overwhelming evidence that——

Chairman SENSENBRENNER. The gentleman from Utah, Mr. Cannon.

Mr. MEEHAN—these members get PTSD and everything else.

Chairman SENSENBRENNER. The gentleman from Utah.

Mr. CANNON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I apologize just for a moment here. We apparently got the wrong amendment initially here, so I've just been looking this over. And if I might ask Mr. Meehan just one question.

On line 12 of your amendment it says: result of an injury or disability resulting from (1) active duty and then performing homeland defense. Does "resulting from" mean that it happened while on either active or performing, or——

Mr. MEEHAN. No. The question——

Mr. CANNON. Does it have to be something involved—that, you know, if a guy is on active duty but he's out at a bar and he gets in a fistfight and gets disabled, do you have—what do you mean by that?

Mr. MEEHAN. No. The injury would be resulting from active duty. In other words, if somebody, as we all know from veterans coming back develop PTSD, and the question also is when the indebtedness occurred. But, no, this is anyone whose injured primarily as a result of, injury primarily the result of active duty. And oftentimes when a service member comes home and it's determined that they have PTSD, for example, then that is an injury that occurred as a result of active duty. Yet, if the indebtedness was not incurred while they were on active duty, then they don't get any relief under this amendment. That's a fundamental flaw in what the Senate adopted, and I think we ought to correct it here.

Mr. CANNON. May I just ask, so if someone who is on active duty is in a bar and gets in a fight, does that result from the active duty since it's—you know, he's in the theater, but it's, you know, a different circumstance than what we normally think of as post—PTSD. I don't—I'm just trying to understand where you're going with——

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


485

Mr. MEEHAN. Well, I can tell you that PTSD, the military has changed their policy. We now require, when soldiers come back, to have a full examination——

Mr. CANNON. Reclaiming my time, I'm not talking about PTSD so much as trying to understand, do you intend to cover everything that happens while a person is on active duty——

Mr. MEEHAN. Only if the injury is as a result of their service on active duty. In other words——

Mr. CANNON. So the fight in a bar in Iraq is not going to qualify—that is a fight with another American——

Mr. MEEHAN. Well, if it's in Iraq, it may well qualify, it may well qualify. But here's—you're missing the point. What this is about is when the indebtedness occurred, so even under the Senate amendment if the indebtedness occurred while this soldier was in Iraq, I believe he's covered by the Senate language.

However, if a soldier comes back to the United States, it's determined he has PTSD, and the indebtedness occurs after that disability has been diagnosed, and the indebtedness starts to build once a soldier comes back to the United States, they wouldn't get relief under the Senate language.

Mr. CANNON. Reclaiming my time, I think I understand where you're coming from on that. I'm unclear as to the scope, but let me just point out that the bill already has very substantial protections for the military in it. The bill's needs-based test includes numerous safe harbors and exceptions for special circumstances. As amended, the special circumstances exception specifically mentions a debtor who is subject to a call or order to active duty in the armed forces. And, as amended, the needs-based test has a special exception just for debtors who are disabled veterans if indebtedness occurred primarily during a period when the debtor was on active duty or performing a homeland defense activity.

As amended, the bill specifies that the absolute safe harbor from all types of dismissal motions, under section 707(b), applies to a veteran. As amended, the bill excuses a debtor if he or she is on active military duty in a military combat zone from the mandatory credit counseling and financial management training requirements.z`

I think we've done what we can do for our members of the military, and so I would encourage the Members of the Committee to vote no on this amendment.

Mr. MEEHAN. Would the gentleman yield?

Mr. CANNON. Certainly.

Mr. MEEHAN. But what I'm talking about here is people who have been injured or have a disability as a result of service, for example, in Iraq. If you want language, for example, to exempt anyone who gets in a bar fight in Iraq, I would be glad to do that, but what——

Mr. CANNON. No. I'm just trying to understand what you want to do but——

Mr. MEEHAN. What I'm talking about is if a soldier who serves in Iraq and comes home without a leg or another—without an arm, as they have at Walter Reed Hospital, literally thousands of them, and they have PTSD, as many of them do, and their indebtedness starts to grow when they get back from active duty, they ought to be covered by the same kind of exemption here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


486

Mr. CANNON. Are you suggesting that—you've talked about post traumatic stress syndrome——

Mr. MEEHAN. As one example.

Mr. CANNON. As an example, but is that because——

Chairman SENSENBRENNER. Time of the gentleman has expired.

Mr. CANNON. Thank you, yield back.

Chairman SENSENBRENNER. The question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from Massachusetts, Mr. Meehan. Those in favor will say aye.

Opposed, no.

The noes appear to have it.

Mr. MEEHAN. rollcall, Mr. Chairman.

Chairman SENSENBRENNER. rollcall will be ordered. The question is on the Meehan amendment. Those in favor will as your names are called answer aye, those opposed, no, and the clerk will call the roll

The CLERK. Mr. Hyde?

[No response.].

The CLERK. Mr. Coble?

Mr. COBLE. No.

The CLERK. Mr. Coble, no. Mr. Smith?

[No response.]

The CLERK. Mr. Gallegly?

Mr. GALLEGLY. No.

The CLERK. Mr. Gallegly, no. Mr. Goodlatte?

[No response.]

The CLERK. Mr. Chabot?

Mr. CHABOT. No.

The CLERK. Mr. Chabot, no. Mr. Lungren?

Mr. LUNGREN. No.

The CLERK. Mr. Lungren, no. Mr. Jenkins?

Mr. JENKINS. No.

The CLERK. Mr. Jenkins, no. Mr. Cannon?

Mr. CANNON. No.

The CLERK. Mr. Cannon, no. Mr. Bachus?

Mr. BACHUS. No.

The CLERK. Mr. Bachus, no. Mr. Inglis?

[No response.]

The CLERK. Mr. Hostettler?

Mr. HOSTETTLER. No.

The CLERK. Mr. Hostettler, no. Mr. Green?

[No response.]

The CLERK. Mr. Keller?

Mr. KELLER. No.

The CLERK. Mr. Keller, no. Mr. Issa?

Mr. ISSA. No.

The CLERK. Mr. Issa, no. Mr. Flake?

[No response.]

The CLERK. Mr. Pence?

[No response.]

The CLERK. Mr. Forbes?

Mr. FORBES. No.

The CLERK. Mr. Forbes, no. Mr. King?

Mr. KING. No.

The CLERK. Mr. King, no. Mr. Feeney?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


487

Mr. FEENEY. No.

The CLERK. Mr. Feeney, no. Mr. Franks?

Mr. FRANKS. No.

The CLERK. Mr. Franks, no. Mr. Gohmert?

Mr. GOHMERT. No.

The CLERK. Mr. Gohmert, no. Mr. Conyers?

Mr. CONYERS. Aye.

The CLERK. Mr. Conyers, aye. Mr. Berman?

[No response.]

The CLERK. Mr. Boucher?

[No response.]

The CLERK. Mr. Nadler?

Mr. NADLER. Aye.

The CLERK. Mr. Nadler, aye. Mr. Scott?

Mr. SCOTT. Aye.

The CLERK. Mr. Scott, aye. Mr. Watt?

Mr. WATT. Aye.

The CLERK. Mr. Watt, aye. Ms. Lofgren?

[No response.]

The CLERK. Ms. Jackson Lee?

[No response.]

The CLERK. Ms. Waters?

Ms. WATERS. Aye.

The CLERK. Ms. Waters, aye. Mr. Meehan?

Mr. MEEHAN. Aye.

The CLERK. Mr. Meehan, aye. Mr. Delahunt?

[No response.]

The CLERK. Mr. Wexler?

[No response.]

The CLERK. Mr. Weiner?

Mr. WEINER. Aye.

The CLERK. Mr. Weiner, aye. Mr. Schiff?

Mr. SCHIFF. Aye.

The CLERK. Mr. Schiff, aye. Ms. Sanchez?

Ms. SANCHEZ. Aye.

The CLERK. Ms. Sanchez, aye. Mr. Smith?

[No response.]

The CLERK. Mr. Van Hollen?

Mr. VAN HOLLEN. Aye.

The CLERK. Mr. Van Hollen, aye. Mr. Chairman?

Chairman SENSENBRENNER. No.

The CLERK. Mr. Chairman, no.

Chairman SENSENBRENNER. Members in the chamber who wish to cast or change their votes? Gentleman from Virginia, Mr. Boucher?

Mr. BOUCHER. Votes no.

The CLERK. Mr. Boucher, no.

Chairman SENSENBRENNER. Gentleman from California, Mr. Berman?

Mr. BERMAN. Aye.

The CLERK. Mr. Berman, aye.

Chairman SENSENBRENNER. Gentlewoman from Texas, Ms. Jackson Lee?

Ms. JACKSON LEE. Am I recorded?

The CLERK. Mr. Chairman, Ms. Jackson Lee is not recorded.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


488

Ms. JACKSON LEE. Aye.

The CLERK. Ms. Jackson Lee, aye.

Chairman SENSENBRENNER. Further Members in the—gentleman from Texas, Mr. Smith.

Mr. SMITH OF TEXAS. Mr. Chairman, I vote no.

The CLERK. Mr. Smith, no.

Chairman SENSENBRENNER. Gentleman from South Carolina, Mr. Inglis.

Mr. INGLIS. No.

The CLERK. Mr. Inglis, no.

Chairman SENSENBRENNER. Any other Members in the chamber who wish to cast or change their votes? If not, the clerk will report. The gentlewoman from California, Ms. Waters?

Ms. WATERS. Aye.

Chairman SENSENBRENNER. Is Ms. Waters recorded?

The CLERK. Mr. Chairman, Ms. Waters is recorded with aye.

Chairman SENSENBRENNER. The clerk will report.

The CLERK. Mr. Chairman, there are 12 ayes and 19 noes.

Chairman SENSENBRENNER. And the amendment is not agreed to. Are there further amendments?

 

 

 

 

 


Mr. SCHIFF. Mr. Chairman, I have an amendment.

Chairman SENSENBRENNER. The gentleman from California, Mr. Schiff?

Mr. SCHIFF. Mr. Chairman, I have an amendment——

Ms. JACKSON LEE. Can I have a parliamentary inquiry, pleases? What is the order of selecting people to do amendments?

Chairman SENSENBRENNER. The order is at the discretion of the Chair. The gentleman from California, Mr. Schiff.

Ms. JACKSON LEE. That's what I notice, so let me say that I reject the discretion of the Chair. I've had my hand up forever and ever——

Chairman SENSENBRENNER. The gentlewoman from Texas is out of order.

Ms. JACKSON LEE. You need to be fair.

Chairman SENSENBRENNER. The gentleman from—the Chair has always been fair and——

Ms. JACKSON LEE. Not really.

Chairman SENSENBRENNER. Well, the clerk will report the amendment of the gentleman from California, Mr. Schiff.

Ms. JACKSON LEE. I'm planning on staying here all evening till you call on me.

Chairman SENSENBRENNER. The gentlewoman from Texas will be called on in due course. Which amendment does the——

Ms. JACKSON LEE. Well, it will be 12 tonight and I'll be right here waiting to be called on. You're rudely unfair.

Mr. SCHIFF. Mr. Chairman——

Ms. JACKSON LEE. Had my hand up forever.

Mr. SCHIFF. The amendment is numbered 002.

Chairman SENSENBRENNER. The clerk will report the amendment of the gentleman from California.

Mr. SCHIFF. Amendment to S. 256 offered by Mr. Schiff. Page 92, after line 5, insert the following (and make such technical and conforming changes as may be appropriate:).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


489

Chairman SENSENBRENNER. Without objection, the amendment is considered as read, and the gentleman from California is recognized for 5 minutes.

[The amendment follows:]

 

 

 



491

Mr. SCHIFF. Mr. Chairman, I will keep this very brief and it won't consume 5 minutes.

This amendment would authorize a study by the GAO to determine any effects the bill may have on the ability of a parent to pay child support or the ability of a parent to collect child support. Probably the most significant concern about the bill for me is the collateral consequence of the bill, where those trying to collect child support may be placed in indirect or direct competition with credit card companies or others who are in a much stronger position to collect on outstanding debts than those who are entitled to child support.

This amendment is identical to the one I offered 4 years ago that made it into the manager's amendment but was later removed from the manager's amendment. It would merely require that a study be conducted so that we can determine, after a suitable period of time elapses, if there has been an adverse impact in this area. Some have asserted that portions of the bill will actually help those attempting to collect child support, but I think it is still unclear what the impact will be on those who are entitled to child support and maybe unable to collect it. This amendment will provide for a good and objective analysis to help us determine whether subsequent legislation as a follow up would be prudent.

The bill only calls for a study. It does not impede the date of enactment of the bill or implementation of the bill.

With that, Mr. Chairman, I will yield the balance of my time.

Chairman SENSENBRENNER. The gentleman from Utah, Mr. Cannon.

Mr. CANNON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

 

 

 

 


Let me respond by just submitting for the record a National Child Support Enforcement Association statement supporting the bill. This is from, I think this is from 2002, but I think the principles are the same.

Let me just point out that this study can be had just by a request from Congress. We could even do a bipartisan request of GAO, and I assure the gentleman from California that I would be happy to sign that request with him if he'd like to do that.

We do not need to amend the study—or amend the bill to get a study like this, and so I would encourage my colleagues to vote against this amendment, and I yield back the balance of my time.

[The material referred to follows:]



493


Mr. CONYERS. Could the gentleman from Utah yield, please?

Mr. CANNON. Mr. Conyers, I'd be happy to yield to you in just a moment, but may I suggest to the gentleman that he might want to withdraw the amendment. And I'd be happy to sign a letter asking for the study.

Mr. SCHIFF. If the gentleman will yield, I'd be happy to yield to the—I was going to say I'm—unless my colleague objects, I'd be happy to withdraw the amendment and join my colleague in——

Chairman SENSENBRENNER. Without objection, the amendment is withdrawn.

Mr. CONYERS. Thank you.

Chairman SENSENBRENNER. Are there further amendments? The gentleman from Michigan, Mr. Conyers.

Mr. CONYERS. I wanted to just make—strike the last word.

Chairman SENSENBRENNER. The gentleman is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. CONYERS. After the distinguished gentlelady from Texas is recognized, and after the Ranking Member of Commercial and Administrative Law Subcommittee, Mr. Watt, makes an important presentation on his amendment, it is my inclination to call for the previous question. And I yield back my time.

Chairman SENSENBRENNER. Does the gentleman from Michigan yield back?

Mr. CONYERS. Yes, sir. I do.

 

 

 

 


Chairman SENSENBRENNER. For what purpose does the gentlewoman from Texas seek recognition?

Ms. JACKSON LEE. I have an amendment at the desk.

Chairman SENSENBRENNER. The clerk will report the amendment.

Ms. JACKSON LEE. It is 001, and I have five amendments.

Chairman SENSENBRENNER. Without objection, the amendments are considered en bloc.

Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Chairman, I am not asking him for them to be considered en bloc.

Chairman SENSENBRENNER. The clerk will report the amendment.

Ms. JACKSON LEE. 001, please.

The CLERK. Amendment to S. 256 offer by Ms. Jackson Lee of Texas. Page 10, line 22, strike "$1,500" and insert "$3,000."

Chairman SENSENBRENNER. The gentlewoman is recognized for 5 minutes.

[The amendment follows:]

 

 

 

 



495

Ms. JACKSON LEE. I thank the Chairman very much. I would like to have recorded—well, let me just make a statement. I was unavoidably detained for the Schiff amendment dealing with identity theft. I'd like to be recorded as voting aye if I had been present. And I was detained for the Nadler amendment. I'd like to be recorded as having voted yes.

With that in mind, to my colleagues, I think that this amendment is a very straightforward and simple amendment, and would generate, I would hope, bipartisan support. My amendment simply increases the amount of relief that is given to those parents who have children in private and parochial schools, raising the amount that is protected from $1,500 to $3,000.

Let me share with my colleagues what has been recently noted as private school dollars. In looking at a list of schools from Texas, you will find that most private schools, that is, primary schools, are anywhere from $3,500 to $5,000. The $1,500 would simply throw children out of school and eliminate—or burden children who are not responsible for the difficulties of their parents. The mean test mechanism, the principal mechanism aimed at the bankruptcy filing rate is the means test under section 11, which denies access to Chapter 7 bankruptcy to those debtors who are deemed able to repay their debts. The test has been described by proponents as a flexible test to assess an individual's ability to repay his debts and as a remedy to irresponsible consumerism and lax bankruptcy law.

The Jackson Lee amendment seeks to remove one aspect of its inflexibility and outdatedness. The means test limits private or parochial school tuition expenses up to $1,500 per year. According to a study by the National Center for Educational Statistics, even in 1993, $1,500 would not have covered the average tuition for virtually any category of parochial school—of any parochial school or private school. Today it would not come close for any particular school. In order to yield a few dollars for credit card issuers, this bill would force many struggling families to take their children from private or parochial school, often in violation of deeply held religious beliefs, for 3 to 5 years in order to conform or confirm a Chapter 13 plan.

My amendment, as I indicated, would simply increase this tuition payment ceiling to $3,000 to account for inflation as well as the current cost of parochial tuition. The average cost to educate one elementary school student is $3,100, which is double what it was 10 years ago.

As I look at the crisis of education in America, it would certainly be shameful if we stood in this room to deny individuals the opportunity to be educated.

Let me share as well some food for thought for my colleagues in their understanding or in their deliberation on the final resolution of this particular legislation. We realize that if you are with a bad credit score and you do accept a credit card, which they are given to anyone that literally breathes in America, you are usually paying usurious rates, 29 percent, 24 percent. Those interest rates are in essence an insurance against those who may get themselves into trouble. That means this is the insurance that is given to the credit card company when there are those who default. And what is strange about this is that the credit card companies collect this risk premium year in and year out, but when the risk actually happens

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


496

 and the borrower cannot pay, the lenders want the Federal Government to intervene to force the debtor to pay. That is the ludicrous—the ridiculousness of this legislation. Credit card companies go off scot free, and those who are victimized have to pay.

I would like to—and that is by Elizabeth Warren, at least the comment that I read. I don't want to put the other comments—the comment that I read about the risk actually happens is a notation by Elizabeth Warren.

 


I would like to put into the record what was written by David Broder, and I'd ask unanimous consent to put his entire article into the record.

Chairman SENSENBRENNER. Without objection.

[The material referred to follows:]


497


498

Ms. JACKSON LEE. One of the paragraphs reads, "For 2 weeks the Senate sponsors shot down virtually every attempt to separate the sheep from the goats and carve out protections for the average family trapped by circumstances. The dry language of the Congressional Record recites a series of one-sided votes rejecting amendments "to protect service members and veterans . . . to exempt debtors whose financial problems were caused by serious medical problems . . . to preserve existing bankruptcy protections for individuals experiencing'——


Chairman SENSENBRENNER. The gentlewoman's time has——

Ms. JACKSON LEE. I don't want to follow the——

Chairman SENSENBRENNER—expired.

Ms. JACKSON LEE—Senate. I'd ask you to support my amendment.

Chairman SENSENBRENNER. The gentlewoman's time has expired. The question is on the Jackson Lee amendment. Those in favor will say aye?

Those opposed, no?

The noes appear to have it. The noes——

Ms. JACKSON LEE. rollcall vote.

Chairman SENSENBRENNER. Those in favor of the Jackson Lee amendment will, as your names are called, answer aye, those opposed, no, and the clerk will call the roll.

The CLERK. Mr. Hyde?

[No response.]

The CLERK. Mr. Coble?

Mr. COBLE. No.

The CLERK. Mr. Coble, no. Mr. Smith?

Mr. SMITH OF TEXAS. No.

The CLERK. Mr. Smith, no. Mr. Gallegly?

Mr. GALLEGLY. No.

The CLERK. Mr. Gallegly, no. Mr. Goodlatte?

[No response.]

The CLERK. Mr. Chabot?

Mr. CHABOT. No.

The CLERK. Mr. Chabot, no. Mr. Lungren?

Mr. LUNGREN. No.

The CLERK. Mr. Lungren, no. Mr. Jenkins?

Mr. JENKINS. No.

The CLERK. Mr. Jenkins, no. Mr. Cannon?

Mr. CANNON. No.

The CLERK. Mr. Cannon, no. Mr. Bachus?

Mr. BACHUS. No.

The CLERK. Mr. Bachus, no. Mr. Inglis?

Mr. INGLIS. No.

The CLERK. Mr. Inglis, no. Mr. Hostettler?

[No response.]

The CLERK. Mr. Green?

[No response.]

The CLERK. Mr. Keller?

Mr. KELLER. No.

The CLERK. Mr. Keller, no. Mr. Issa?

[No response.]

The CLERK. Mr. Flake?

[No response.]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


499

The CLERK. Mr. Pence?

Mr. PENCE. No.

The CLERK. Mr. Pence, no. Mr. Forbes?

Mr. FORBES. No.

The CLERK. Mr. Forbes, no. Mr. King?

Mr. KING. No.

The CLERK. Mr. King, no. Mr. Feeney?

Mr. FEENEY. No.

The CLERK. Mr. Feeney, no. Mr. Franks?

Mr. FRANKS. No.

The CLERK. Mr. Franks, no. Mr. Gohmert?

Mr. GOHMERT. No.

The CLERK. Mr. Gohmert, no. Mr. Conyers?

Mr. CONYERS. Aye.

The CLERK. Mr. Conyers, aye. Mr. Berman?

Mr. BERMAN. Aye.

The CLERK. Mr. Berman, aye. Mr. Boucher?

Mr. BOUCHER. No.

The CLERK. Mr. Boucher, no. Mr. Nadler?

Mr. NADLER. Aye.

The CLERK. Mr. Nadler, aye. Mr. Scott?

Mr. SCOTT. Aye.

The CLERK. Mr. Scott, aye. Mr. Watt?

Mr. WATT. Aye.

The CLERK. Mr. Watt, aye. Ms. Lofgren?

[No response.]

The CLERK. Ms. Jackson Lee?

Ms. JACKSON LEE. Aye.

The CLERK. Ms. Jackson Lee, aye. Ms. Waters?

Ms. WATERS. Aye.

The CLERK. Ms. Waters, aye. Mr. Meehan?

[No response.]

The CLERK. Mr. Delahunt?

[No response.]

The CLERK. Mr. Wexler?

[No response.]

The CLERK. Mr. Weiner?

Mr. WEINER. Aye.

The CLERK. Mr. Weiner, aye. Mr. Schiff?

Mr. SCHIFF. Aye.

The CLERK. Mr. Schiff, aye. Ms. Sanchez?

Ms. SANCHEZ. Aye.

The CLERK. Ms. Sanchez, aye. Mr. Smith?

Mr. SMITH. Aye.

The CLERK. Mr. Smith, aye. Mr. Van Hollen?

Mr. VAN HOLLEN. Aye.

The CLERK. Mr. Van Hollen, aye. Mr. Chairman?

Chairman SENSENBRENNER. No.

The CLERK. Mr. Chairman, no.

Chairman SENSENBRENNER. Members in the chamber who wish to cast or change their vote? The gentleman from Wisconsin, Mr. Green.

Mr. GREEN. No.

The CLERK. Mr. Green, no.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


500

Chairman SENSENBRENNER. The gentleman from Virginia, Mr. Goodlatte.

Mr. GOODLATTE. No.

The CLERK. Mr. Goodlatte, no.

Chairman SENSENBRENNER. Further Members in the chamber who wish to cast or change their vote? The gentleman from California, Mr. Issa.

Mr. ISSA. Aye.

The CLERK. Mr. Issa, aye.

Chairman SENSENBRENNER. Further Members in the chamber who wish to cast or change their vote? If not, the clerk will report.

The CLERK. Mr. Chairman, there are 12 ayes and 21 noes.

Chairman SENSENBRENNER. And the amendment is not agreed to.

Are there further amendments?

 

 

 

 


Ms. JACKSON LEE. I have an amendment at the desk, Mr. Chairman.

Chairman SENSENBRENNER. The gentlewoman from Texas. The clerk will report the amendment.

Ms. JACKSON LEE. It is 003.

The CLERK. Amendment to S. 256, offered by Ms. Jackson Lee of Texas. Page 20, line 24, insert "assistance funds received by the debtor as a victim of a natural disaster'——

Chairman SENSENBRENNER. Without objection, the amendment is considered as read.

[The amendment follows:]

 

 

 

 


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