Today Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), co-chair of the New Democrat Coalition, and 30 additional Members of the New Democrat Coalition, wrote to Rep. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) “to reiterate [their] support for bankruptcy reform legislation” and urging that the bankruptcy reform bill conference report to accompany H.R. 333 to the floor quickly be brought immediately to the floor of the House. 

When the conference report is finally brought to the floor, Smith will vote in favor of “The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2001,” H.R. 333, to overhaul bankruptcy law to require debtors to take responsibility for their debts and repay them when they are financially able. 

“Frankly, bankruptcy needs to be more of a last resort instead of a first action.  This conference reports requires greater personal responsibility from debtors by ensuring that those who have the ability to pay off some of their debt do,” said Representative Adam Smith (D-Wash.).  “It supports consumers by reducing irresponsible bankruptcy filings.  It is unfair that many higher-income families are declaring bankruptcy even when they have the ability to repay some of their debts, costing other families hundreds of dollars each year.”

“Over the past five years, we have worked to advance reasonable and balanced legislation that would require individuals who have the ability to repay their debts to do so, while preserving the important safety net of bankruptcy under Chapter 7 for those who truly need it,” the New Democrats write.  “We believe that the bankruptcy reform compromise that has been reached by the House-Senate conference embodies the New Democratic principle of personal responsibility, while at the same time adding important new consumer protections such as requiring enhanced credit card disclosure information and encouraging participation in consumer credit counseling.   In addition, the bill significantly strengthens the ability of women and children to collect child support payments that they are owed, as well as curtails abuse of homestead exemptions.”

“Legislation passed the House last year with overwhelming bipartisan support.  More than 90 Members of the Democratic Caucus voted for the legislation, with 50 Members of the NDC supporting the measure,” the letter continues.  “We believe that this year’s bankruptcy reform conference report represents a fair, balanced, and reasonable bill, and we look forward to working with you to see that such legislation is enacted this year.”

Since coming to Congress in 1997, Representative Adam Smith has been a leading Democrat in favor of Bankruptcy reform.  As a leader of the New Democrats in the House, Smith has long fought for common sense changes to bankruptcy laws.  The New Democrat Coalition has co-sponsored bankruptcy reform this session and last session, and has continually provided key Democratic support for the issue.  When the House considered H.R. 333 last March, it was approved by a vote of 306-108, with 75 percent of all voting New Democrat members voting yes.