The co-chairs of the New Democrat Coalition, Reps. Jim Davis (D-Fla.), Ron Kind (D-Wisc.) and Adam Smith (D-Wash.), criticized the Republican leadership for permitting the extreme elements of their party to defeat critical bankruptcy legislation when it was finally brought to the floor after they held it hostage for five months. The conference report for the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2001 would overhaul bankruptcy law to require debtors to take responsibility for their debts and repay them when they are financially able.
The New Democrat Coalition has continuously offered support to the House Leadership on bankruptcy reform. Last year, bankruptcy legislation passed the House with overwhelming bipartisan support including the votes of 50 members of the New Democrat Coalition and several members of the Democratic leadership. The New Democrats have consistently made this legislation a top priority and have delivered a wide base of support for the bill.
“I’m really frustrated that a group of right-wing, conservative Republicans, led by new Majority Leader Tom DeLay, were able to kill this important economic legislation. Frankly, the provisions they claimed to object to wouldn’t have changed current law at all,” said Rep. Adam Smith, (D-Wash.). “As New Democrats, we’re working to find common sense solutions to our nation’s problems and advance the principles of fairness and personal responsibility. It’s really distressing that we couldn’t find enough moderate Republicans to pass this bill, and I hope this isn’t representative of the kind of leadership we’re going to see in the coming year.”
“In a sad indication of things to come, the Republican party has once again allowed their most conservative members to hold hostage a good piece of bipartisan legislation - bankruptcy reform - that the business community had made their top priority this year,” Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wisc.) added. “Unlike the Republicans apparent obeisance to extremist dogma, the New Democrat Coalition will continue to pursue pro-growth legislation that will advance our nation's economy.”
“Since 1997, Congress has been trying to reform our broken bankruptcy system,” concluded Rep. Jim Davis (D-Fla.). “The New Democrat Coalition has repeatedly reached across the aisle to work hand-in-hand with Republicans in advancing bankruptcy reform. Now, as Congress is on the verge of succeeding, the Republican Party has allowed an interparty squabble to railroad this important reform legislation. I can only hope that we will see stronger leadership in the 108th Congress.”