Search Form
First, enter a politician or zip code
Now, choose a category

Public Statements

Temporary Bankruptcy Judgeships Extension Act of 2011

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. SMITH of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

One of the results of a slack economy is that more individuals and businesses have filed for bankruptcy. In fact, over the past 3 years, the number of bankruptcy petitions filed in bankruptcy courts has doubled. While recent data show that the volume of cases is beginning to subside, our bankruptcy judges remain hard at work.

Bankruptcy judges are critical to the operation of our Federal bankruptcy courts. The important bankruptcy reforms Congress passed in 2005, for example, called on judges to do more to help prevent bankruptcy abuse; and large, complex chapter 11 cases, like the recently filed mega-case of American Airline, are time intensive for our bankruptcy judges.

In the last Congress, the Judiciary Committee reported a bankruptcy judgeships bill that would have created new permanent judgeships, converted temporary judgeships to permanent status, and extended temporary judgeships. The House passed that bill, but it did not pass the Senate.

As a result, several temporary judgeships are in danger of being unable to be refilled if there is a vacancy. But the need for bankruptcy judges remains high.

I introduced the legislation under consideration with the ranking member of the Courts, Commercial and Administrative Law Subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee, Steve Cohen, the chairman of that subcommittee, Howard Coble, and the ranking member of the full Judiciary Committee, John Conyers.

This bill permits 23 temporary bankruptcy judgeships in judicial districts throughout the country to be filled if there is a judgeship vacancy in those districts during the next 5 years as a result of a judge's death, removal, retirement, or resignation.

Congress should ensure there are enough bankruptcy judges to handle the increased caseloads as a result of the recession; but Congress should also conserve Federal resources and conduct periodic oversight of judicial caseloads. H.R. 1021 authorizes a 5-year extension, which preserves Congress's ability to reassess the need for bankruptcy judges in a few years.

Time is of the essence. I urge the Senate also to act quickly on this measure so that our bankruptcy system may continue to operate with speed and efficiency.

I want to thank the bill's cosponsors for their bipartisan support.

[Begin Insert]
One of the results of the slack economy is that more individuals and businesses have filed for bankruptcy. In fact, over the past three years, the number of bankruptcy petitions filed in bankruptcy courts has doubled. While recent data show that the volume of cases is beginning to subside, our bankruptcy judges remain hard at work.

Bankruptcy judges are critical to the operation of our federal bankruptcy courts. The important bankruptcy reforms Congress passed in 2005, for example, called on judges to do more to help prevent bankruptcy abuse. And large, complex chapter 11 cases, like the recently filed mega-case of American Airlines, are time-intensive for our bankruptcy judges.

However, no new bankruptcy judgeships have been created since 2005. At that time, Congress created temporary judgeships so that it could periodically review the caseloads in each district and assess whether the temporary judgeship was still needed. Permanent judgeships have not been authorized since 1992.

Every two years, the Judicial Conference of the United States publishes a report to Congress that details the judicial needs of each district. The Conference evaluates need based on a ``weighted caseload'' analysis. The 2011 weighted caseload statistics demonstrate that judges are desperately needed in many districts.

In the last Congress, the Judiciary Committee reported a bankruptcy judgeships bill that would have created new permanent judgeships, converted temporary judgeships to permanent status and extended temporary judgeships. The House passed that bill but it did not pass the Senate.

As a result, several temporary judgeships are in danger of being unable to be refilled if there is a vacancy. But the need for bankruptcy judges remains high.

I introduced the legislation under consideration with the Ranking Member of the Courts, Commercial and Administrative Law Subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee, Steve Cohen; the Chairman of that subcommittee, Howard Coble; and the Ranking Member of the full Judiciary Committee, John Conyers.

This bill permits 23 temporary bankruptcy judgeships in judicial districts throughout the country to be filled if there is a judgeship vacancy in those districts during the next five years as a result of a judge's death, removal, retirement or resignation.

Congress should ensure there are enough bankruptcy judges to handle the increased caseloads as a result of the recession. But Congress should also conserve federal resources and conduct periodic oversight of judicial caseloads. H.R. 1021 authorizes a 5-year extension, which preserves Congress's ability to reassess the need for bankruptcy judges in a few years.

The relief a debtor receives from the bankruptcy system is extraordinary; they either reorganize their debts on more favorable terms or they get a complete discharge of all their prepetition debts. All except the poorest of debtors pay a fee to file a bankruptcy case and receive these benefits.

I believe it is fair to use debtors' filing fees to pay for the costs associated with our bankruptcy judges. This legislation, as amended, raises the filing fee on chapter 11 reorganization cases from $1000 to $1042--a modest 4 percent increase. As a result, this bill does not increase direct spending by the federal government.

Time is of the essence. I urge the Senate also to act quickly on this measure so that our bankruptcy system may continue to operate with speed and efficiency.

I thank the bill's cosponsors for their bipartisan support.

[End Insert]

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT


Source:
Skip to top
Back to top