BANKRUPTCY ABUSE PREVENTION AND CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT OF 2003 -- (House of Representatives - January 28, 2004)
The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Sessions). Pursuant to House Resolution 503 and rule XVIII, the Chair declares the House in the Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union for the consideration of the Senate bill, S. 1920.
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Mr. HOLDEN. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentlewoman for yielding me the time.
Mr. Chairman, I rise in support of the Baldwin amendment, which simply seeks to extend chapter 12 of the bankruptcy code on a permanent basis once and for all. This amendment represents an achievable solution to a problem that has existed for more than 6 years.
In 1997, the National Bankruptcy Review Commission recommended that chapter 12 of the Federal Bankruptcy Code, the chapter that contains bankruptcy protection for family farmers, be made permanent.
Chapter 12 is by no means a controversial issue. It was enacted in 1986 as a measure to allow family farmers to repay their debts according to a plan under court supervision. Chapter 12 prevents a situation from occurring where a few bad crop years result in the loss of the family farm.
In the absence of chapter 12, family farmers are forced to file for bankruptcy relief under the bankruptcy code's other alternatives, none of which work quite as well for farmers as chapter 12 does. Chapter 11, for example, will require a farmer to sell the family farm to pay the claims of creditors. How can a farmer be expected to come up with the money to pay off his debts without his farm? Chapter 11 is an expensive process that does not accommodate the special needs of farmers.
This Congress, just as in previous Congresses, the larger Bankruptcy Reform Act, H.R. 975, includes a provision that permanently extends chapter 12. Also in this Congress, just as in previous Congresses, the larger Bankruptcy Reform Act, while enjoying a majority of support in the House, remains a controversial bill whose consideration by the other body remains a question. Simply substituting the text of H.R. 975 into this bill and sending it back over to the other body will not bring us any closer to extending chapter 12, even on a temporary basis.
For years now, family farmers have been held hostage by the contentious debate surrounding the larger bankruptcy issue. Since at least the 105th Congress, they have been made to sit on pins and needles waiting to see if we will extend these protections for another few months as we try to work out the larger bankruptcy issue.
Mr. Chairman, the family farmers have waited long enough. Family farmers cannot make long-term financial plans based on 6-month extensions. Permanently extending chapter 12 will give farmers the kind of protection they desperately need, the kind of protections we have already voted for time and time again since the 1997 National Bankruptcy Review Commission recommendation.
I urge my colleagues to accept the Baldwin amendment.