Media Contact: Christine Glunz, 202.225.3072
Washington, DC – Every Democratic female Member of Congress signed a letter today addressed to House Speaker Dennis Hastert urging the Republican leadership not to play politics with S. 1920, a bill to provide bankruptcy relief for family farmers by adding the language from H.R. 975, a broad and controversial bankruptcy bill.
The House will debate S. 1920 today, a six-month extension of Chapter 12 of the bankruptcy code, which provides relief to family farmers. The bill is expected to receive strong support by both parties, but Republican leadership is taking this opportunity to play politics with family farmer relief by adding the text of H.R. 975, a contentious, broader bankruptcy reform legislation that passed the House in March of 2003, but has been stalled in the Senate.
During the 107th Congress, the House rejected the conference report on the bankruptcy bill that passed in the Senate because it incorporated an amendment by Senator Schumer, which would ensure that perpetrators of violence and harassment at reproductive health clinics do not use the bankruptcy laws to avoid paying monetary judgments against them. If passed, the large bankruptcy reform bill would go to conference, allowing Republican leadership in both the House and Senate to bypass the full Senate debate and would not allow such amendments. The text of the letter is below:
“We are writing to express our strong opposition to the Majority’s apparent plan to attach the 500-page bankruptcy reform bill during debate over S. 1920, a narrow 2-page bill that extends Section 12 bankruptcies for family farmers. The motive for this plan is all too clear – to use family farmers as pawns to silence debate over Senator Schumer’s efforts to protect women and abortion clinics in the bankruptcy reform bill.
“In February of 2000, the Senate overwhelmingly passed an amendment offered by Senator Schumer to the bankruptcy reform bill that prevents people convicted of crimes against women and abortion clinics from using bankruptcy protection to evade fines and damages. Too often, criminals who commit these acts of violence have been able to avoid penalties by declaring bankruptcy. For example, Operation Rescue member Randall Terry took advantage of this legal loophole by filing for bankruptcy to avoid a $1.6 million dollar judgment obtained by Planned Parenthood.
“The Schumer Amendment sends a clear message – criminals who harass and intimidate women cannot get away with breaking the law. The Majority’s attempt to silence that message by holding farm bankruptcy renewal hostage is simply wrong.
“We should have an honest and open debate on the Schumer amendment. At the same time, we should not be playing politics with our family farmers. We urge you to bring S. 1920 to the floor as a clean bill.”