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After days of debate, the U.S. Senate passed controversial consumer bankruptcy reform legislation March 15 with a sweeping vote of 83-15. The “Bankruptcy Reform Act,” also known as S. 420, has received strong support from credit card companies, banks and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Primarily a consumer bill, the Senate version shares similar corporate provisions as bankruptcy reform legislation passed overwhelmingly in the House of Representatives on March 1. These provisions include capping at 18 months the exclusive period for a corporate debtor to file a reorganization plan during bankruptcy, and setting a 120-day limit for a retailer to decide whether it will continue with or turn over its leases to a landlord during a bankruptcy. But the two bills have enough changes on the consumer side to warrant reconciliation in a conference committee. Critics decry Congress’ bankruptcy reform legislation as too creditor-friendly, while supporters say it is necessary to stem bankruptcy abuse. During nearly two weeks of debate on the Senate floor, Democrats offered up several amendments in an attempt to soften the bill’s impact. During Thursday’s debate, the Senate voted 79-18 to kill a provision in the legislation that would make it difficult for Lloyd’s of London, the British insurer, to recover debts from some American investors. Copyright (c)2001 TDD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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