News from the Congressional Front - Part I: Pending Bankruptcy Legislation of Interest to You

It's been a while since I've created a new category, but this article by Marcia Coyle in the National Law Journal (including a quote from resident guru, Cathy Vance) about Congressional hypocrisy in having enacted draconian bankruptcy laws and then complaining when US Trustees enforce them made me wonder just what other pearls Congress has up its sleeve that we haven't heard much about.  Turns out, a lot more than you'd think!  Here are a few bits of pending legislation I found interesting:

HR 430 -- to rename the Bankruptcy Court in Brooklyn the "Conrad B. Duberstein US Bankruptcy Courthouse."  A slam dunk that was swiftly approved on 3/13/07 within two months of its introduction by Representative Edolphus Towns (D-NY), with 2/3 in the House agreeing to "suspend the rules" and pass the bill.

S.1561 -- responding in part to the student loan scandals, to limit the discharge exception for student loans only to those made, insured, or guaranteed by a governmental unit and exclude the the broader non-governmental entities now covered by the discharge exception.  Introduced June 7, 2007 by Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL).

HR 1449 -- to permit peremptory challenges to designation of a bankruptcy judge to a case within 20 days after assignment if all parties on "one side" of a case file an application requesting reassignment (with the chief judge of the circuit's court of appeals to decide who is on "a side").   Introduced by Representatives Daniel Lundgren (R-CA), Trent Franks (R-AZ), Bill Sali (R-ID), and Buck McKeon (R-CA) on March 9, 2007.  Including bankruptcy judges in this legislation makes no sense given the difficulty in determining what "side" anyone is on in a bankruptcy case.  Nor does the problem get resolved by having the provision applicable to adversary proceedings instead of cases.  Bankruptcy judges assigned to a case have learned too much about the case to justify moving it to another judge at the whim of one of the "sides" to the adversary proceeding.

HR 4477 -- giving new meaning to a bankruptcy judge's ability to "shoot down" counsel's arguments, by authorizing bankruptcy judges to carry a firearm on the bench, "whether concealed or not."  Introduced by Rep. Phil English (R-PA) on December 8, 2005.  Its proximity to BAPCPA's effective date is likely pure coincidence.

Happy hunting! 

More to come in this periodic series.

© Steve Jakubowski 2007


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