A last-ditch effort to avert bankruptcy

Can an 11th-hour effort by grassroots groups prevent the hard-line bankruptcy bill from making it through Congress?

Published April 7, 2005 5:25PM (EDT)

A coalition of progressive groups, including NOW and the AFL-CIO, have launched an 11th-hour campaign to oppose the bankruptcy bill passed last month by the Senate. The controversial legislation is widely expected to pass in next week's House vote, but the groups are hoping that a grassroots email campaign targeting the House Rules Committee will persuade legislators to include new amendments proposed by Democrats. They say they have generated 10,000 emails so far. The presumption is that this bill is going to pass; there are a number of Democrats supporting it," Bob Fertik, president of activist group Democrats.com, told War Room. "But our effort at the grassroots level is already making a difference.

They face an uphill battle. Under pressure from business groups, the Senate passed the bill without any major changes, and Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee railroaded it through markup, ignoring 19 amendments originally proposed by Democrats. Committee Democrats, led by John Conyers of Michigan, have issued a 54-page dissenting review of the bankruptcy bill. By pressing legislation that is unbalanced and tilted toward specific special interest groups, the proponents of S.256 have created a bill that would: impose monumental costs on the parties in the bankruptcy system, including the government; subject the 'honest but unfortunate debtor' to coercion and loss of their legal rights; force businesses into unnecessary liquidation; and favor certain creditors over others," they write.

While influential grassroots groups like MoveOn.org have chosen to sit this one out, Fertik's coalition has organized rallies around the country and will hold a press conference on Capitol Hill on Tuesday. A million and a half people go into bankruptcy each year, Fertik said. This legislation will affect tens of thousands of Americans.

By Julia Scott

San Francisco-based freelance journalist Julia Scott writes about water and energy issues for various publications. She also covers the environment for Bay Area News Group, a chain of newspapers in Northern California.

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