Bankruptcy Reform Bill Is a Bipartisan Effort

In his zeal to attack the bankruptcy reform bill, Jonathan Chait’s March 4 commentary, “When Democrats Join the Dark Side,” mischaracterizes the legislation. In 2001, a similar bill passed the Senate 82 to 16. The provisions affecting consumer bankruptcy were identical to those Chait criticizes.

At the outset, I refused to support bankruptcy reform until fundamental changes were made. I fought to establish a “safe harbor” for those below their state’s median income. I also insisted on a provision requiring lenders to post a clear warning about the dangers of making minimum monthly payments, one of the worst debt traps for consumers.

This bill establishes unprecedented protections for child support and alimony, making bankruptcy part of the enforcement system for women and children, who now will be at the head of the line, in front of every other creditor. Is this bill perfect? No. But over several congresses it has earned the kind of bipartisan consensus only balanced legislation can achieve.

Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr.