The Senate cleared legislation Oct. 24 that includes provisions to extend 14 temporary bankruptcy judgeships for five years and create four new bankruptcy judgeships.
The bankruptcy judgeship bill, which was used as the vehicle for approving disaster relief in response to recent wildfires and hurricanes, cleared the Senate by an 82-17 vote after overwhelmingly passing the House by a 353-59 vote on Oct. 12.
Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) crafted the final version of the legislation, H.R. 2266, which differs from the original legislation passed by the House in May. The earlier House version closely followed the recommendations of the Judicial Conference of the United States that would have made the 14 temporary judgeships permanent and authorized four new judgeships.
The ABA supports the use of authorizing legislation to address the issues facing the bankruptcy courts, noting in a May 9 letter to the House Judiciary Committee that Congress had not created a new bankruptcy judgeship since 1992 and had instead been handling the situation through a piece-meal approach with temporary judgeships. Most recently, the critical temporary judgeships were extended for one year as part of fiscal year 2017 appropriations legislation enacted in May.
ABA President Hilarie Bass commended Coons for crafting a bipartisan solution and shepherding it to passage. “Every year, thousands of individuals and businesses from every state turn to the bankruptcy court system for relief from burdensome debt that threatens to cast families into poverty and close businesses,” she said.