[Congressional Record (Bound Edition), Volume 146 (2000), Part 18]
[Pages 25804-25807]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office, www.gpo.gov]

[[Page 25804]]

                          THE BANKRUPTCY BILL

  Mr. BIDEN. Mr. President, we just had a vote on a cloture motion on 
the bankruptcy bill, which did not prevail; that is, cloture was not 
invoked. I just want to make a short statement now because we will be 
back at this again.
  This has been a prolonged and complicated process that brought us to 
this point today. I personally believe it need not have been so long 
nor have been so complicated. We should not have had to wait for this 
legislation as long as we have. We should have just stepped up to this 
earlier. But here we are.
  I heard a number of things stated in the well of the Senate as we 
were voting on cloture relative to this legislation about which I think 
people were misinformed. A lot of statements were being made that did 
not reflect what is actually in this bankruptcy bill.
  I know many of my colleagues are not happy with the bill. But on 
balance the bankruptcy reform bill still deserves the strong support of 
the Senate. We will return to this issue later this month, and I would 
like to put to rest some of the assertions made.
  We have what we call a very strong safe harbor provision in this 
bill, to protect families that are below the median income, along with 
allowing them adjustments for additional expenses, that will assure 
that only those with the real ability to pay in bankruptcy are steered 
from chapter 7 to chapter 13.
  The Senate language, giving judges the discretion to determine 
whether or not there are special circumstances that justify those 
expenses, prevailed over the very strict House language. The bottom 
line is, if you are someone who is listed by the national statistics as 
being poor--many folks keep saying poor folks will be hurt by this--you 
are not even in the deal here. You are not even in the deal. You are 
protected. That is what we mean by the safe harbor.
  This provision has been strengthened with an additional protection 
for those between 100 and 150 percent of the national median income. So 
if you have an income that is 150 percent above the median income, you 
will get only a very cursory means test.
  I heard on the floor today people saying how poor folks and lower 
middle income folks were really going to be hurt by this. That is 
simply not true.
  Compared to current law, this provision provides increased protection 
against creditors who try to abuse the so-called reaffirmation process.
  This bill imposes new requirements on credit card companies to 
explain to their customers the implications of making minimum payments 
on their bills every month.
  A feature of this legislation that I think deserves much more 
emphasis is historic improvement in the treatment for family support 
payments, child support, and alimony. I heard my colleagues on my side 
of the aisle down there saying this hurts women and children.
  Compared to current law, there are numerous new, specific protections 
for those who depend on support payments and alimony payments. The 
improvements are so important that they have the endorsement--I want 
everybody to hear this--they have the endorsement of the National Child 
Support Enforcement Association. This is the outfit that comes to us 
and says: Look, you have to provide additional help in seeing to it 
that child support payments are paid by deadbeat dads. The National 
Child Support Enforcement Association, the National Association of 
District Attorneys, the National Association of Attorneys General, they 
all support this bill because of these protections. These are the 
people who actually are in the business of making sure family support 
payments are made.
  One passage from the letter sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee 
deserves repeating. Referring to critics of the legislation, those men 
and women who are on the front lines of the struggle to enforce family 
support agreements say:

       For the critics appear content to sacrifice the palpable 
     advantages which this legislation would provide to support 

  That is, the women and children who depend on support payments.

     to defeat of this legislation, based on the vague and 
     unarticulated fears that women will be unfairly disadvantaged 
     as bankruptcy creditors--in more ways than one, the critics 
     would favor throwing out the baby with the bath water.

  This is a letter from the people who go out on behalf of women, 
collecting child support payments for their children.
  They say this bankruptcy bill is a good bill.
  I think the last line from the letter deserves special stress. I 

       No one who has a genuine interest in the collection of 
     support should permit such inexplicit and speculative fears 
     to supplant the specific and considerable advantages which 
     this reform legislation provides to those who need support.

  I can think of no stronger rebuttal to the arguments we have seen and 
heard recently about the supposed effects of this legislation on women 
and children who depend on alimony and child support.
  Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the full text of this 
letter be printed in the Record.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

                                          District Attorney Family

                                               Support Bureau,

                            San Francisco, CA, September 14, 1999.
     Re S. 625 [Bankruptcy Reform Act].

       Dear Senators: I am writing this letter in response to the 
     July 14, 1999 letter prepared by the National Women's Law 
     Center. That letter asserts in conclusory terms that the 
     Bankruptcy Reform Act would put women and children support 
     creditors at greater risk than they are under current 
     bankruptcy law. The letter ends with the endorsement of 
     numerous women's organizations.
       I have been engaged in the profession of collecting child 
     support for the past 27 years in the Office of the District 
     Attorney of San Francisco, Family Support Bureau. I have 
     practiced and taught bankruptcy law for the past ten years. I 
     participated in the drafting of the child support provisions 
     in the House version of bankruptcy reform and testified on 
     those provisions before the House Subcommittee on Commercial 
     and Administrative Law this year.
       I believe it is important to point out that none of the 
     organizations opposing this legislation which are listed in 
     the July 14th letter actually engages in the collection of 
     support. On the other hand, the largest professional 
     organizations which perform this function have endorsed the 
     child support provisions of the Bankruptcy Reform Act as 
     crucially needed modifications of the Bankruptcy Code which 
     will significantly improve the collection of support during 
     bankruptcy. These organizations include:
       1. The National Child Support Enforcement Association.
       2. The National District Attorneys Association.
       3. The National Association of Attorneys General.
       4. The Western Interstate Child Support Enforcement 
       The thrust of the criticism made by the National Women's 
     Law Center is that by not discharging certain debts owed to 
     credit and finance companies, the institutions would be in 
     competition with women and children for scarce resources of 
     the debtor and that the bill fails ``to insure that support 
     payments will come first.'' They say that the ``bill does not 
     ensure that, in this intensified competition for the debtor's 
     limited resources, parents and children owed support will 
     prevail over the sophisticated collection departments of 
     these powerful interests.''
       With all due respect, nothing could be further from the 
     truth. While the argument is superficially plausible, it 
     ignores the reality of the mechanisms actually available for 
     collection of domestic support obligations in contrast with 
     those available for non-support debts.
       Absent the filing of the bankruptcy case, no professional 
     support collector considers the existence of a debt to a 
     financial institution as posing a significant obstacle to the 
     collection of the support debt. The reason is simple: the 
     tools available to collect support debts outside of the 
     bankruptcy process are vastly superior to those available to 
     financial institutions and, in the majority of cases, take 
     priority over the collection of non-support debts.
       More than half of all child support is collected by 
     earnings withholding. Under federal law such procedures have 
     priority over any other garnishments of the debtor's salary 
     or wages and can take as much as 65% of such salary or wages. 
     By contrast the Consumer Credit Act prevents non-support 
     creditors from enforcing their debts by garnishing more that 
     twenty-five percent of the debtor's salary.

[[Page 25805]]

       In addition, there are many other techniques that are only 
     made available to support creditors and not to those 
     ``sophisticated collection departments of . . . [those] 
     powerful interests:'' These include:
       1. Interception of state and federal tax refunds to pay 
     child support arrears.
       2. Garnishment or interception of Workers' Compensation or 
     Unemployment Insurance Benefits.
       3. Free or low cost collection services provided by the 
       4. Use of interstate processes to collect support 
     arrearage, including interstate earnings withholding orders 
     and interstate real estate support liens.
       5. License revocation for support delinquents.
       6. Criminal prosecution and contempt procedures for failing 
     to pay support debts.
       7. Federal prosecution for nonpayment of support and 
     federal collection of support debts.
       8. Denial of passports to support debtors.
       9. Automatic treatment of support debts as judgments which 
     are collectible under state judgment laws, including 
     garnishment, execution, and real and personal property liens.
       10. Collection of support debts from exempt assets.
       11. The right of support creditors or their representatives 
     to appear in any bankruptcy court without the payment of 
     filing fees or the requirements of formal admission.
       While the above list is not exhaustive, it is illustrative 
     of the numerous advantages given to support creditors over 
     other creditors. And while all of these advantages may not 
     ultimately guarantee that support will be collected, they 
     profoundly undermine the assumption of the National Women's 
     Law Center that the mere existence of financial institution 
     debt will somehow put support creditors at a disadvantage. To 
     put it otherwise, support may sometimes be difficult to 
     collect, but collection of support debt does not become more 
     difficult simply because financial institutions also seek to 
     collect their debts.
       The National Women's Law Center analysis includes without 
     specification that the support ``provisions fail to insure 
     that support payments will come first, ahead of the increased 
     claims of the commercial creditors.'' Professional support 
     collectors, on the other hand, have no trouble in 
     understanding how this bill will enhance the collection of 
     support ahead of the increased claims of commercial 
     creditors. To them, such creditors are irrelevant outside the 
     bankruptcy process. And in light of the treatment of domestic 
     support obligations as priority claims under current law and 
     the enhanced priority treatment of such claims in the 
     proposed legislation, this objection seems particularly 
       Where support creditors are indeed at a disadvantage under 
     current law is during the bankruptcy of a support debtor. 
     Under existing bankruptcy law support creditors frequently 
     have to hire attorneys to enforce support obligations during 
     bankruptcy or attempt the treacherous task of maneuvering 
     through the complexities of bankruptcy process themselves. 
     Attorneys working in the federal child support program--
     indeed, even experienced family law attorneys--may find 
     bankruptcy courts and procedures so unfamiliar that they are 
     ineffective in ensuring that the debtor pays all support when 
     due. Ideally, procedures for the enforcement of support 
     during bankruptcy should be self-executing and uninterrupted 
     by the bankruptcy process. The pending bankruptcy reform 
     legislation goes far in this direction. To suggest that women 
     and children support creditors are not vastly aided by this 
     bill is to ignore the specifics of the legislation.
       In the first place support claims are given the highest 
     priority. Commercial debts do not have any statutory 
     priority. Thus when there is competition between commercial 
     and support creditors, support creditors will be paid first. 
     And, unlike commercial creditors, support creditors must be 
     paid in full when the debtor files a case under chapter 12 or 
     13. Unlike payments to commercial creditors, the trustee 
     cannot recover as preferential transfers support payments 
     made during the ninety days preceding the filing of the 
     bankruptcy petition, and liens securing support may not be 
     avoided as they may be with commercial judgment liens. Unlike 
     commercial creditors, support creditors may collect their 
     debts through interception of income tax refunds, license 
     revocations, and adverse credit reporting, all--under this 
     bill--without the need to seek relief from the automatic 
     bankruptcy stay.
       In addition, support creditors will benefit--again, unlike 
     commercial creditors--from chapter 12 and 13 plans which must 
     provide for full payment of on-going support and unassigned 
     support arrears. Further benefits to support creditors which 
     are not available to commercial creditors is the security in 
     knowing that chapter 12 and 13 debtors will not be able to 
     discharge other debts unless all postpetion support and 
     prepetition unassigned arrears have been paid in full.
       Finally, and most importantly, support creditors will 
     receive--even during bankruptcy--current support and 
     unassigned arrearage payments through the federally mandated 
     earnings withholding procedures without the usual 
     interruption caused by the filing of a bankruptcy case. Like 
     many other provisions of the bill, this provision is self-
     executing, the bankruptcy proceeding will not affect this 
     collection process. Frankly, and contrary to the assertions 
     of the National Women's Law Center, it is difficult to 
     conceive how this bill could better insure that ``support 
     payments will come first, ahead of the increased claims of 
     the commercial creditors.''
       The National Women's Law Center states that some 
     improvements were made in the Senate Judiciary Committee. 
     This organization may wish to think twice about that 
     conclusion. What the Senate amendments did was to distinguish 
     in some cases between support arrears that are assigned (to 
     the government) and those that are unassigned (owned directly 
     to the parent). The NWLC might have a point if assigned 
     arrears were strictly government property and provided no 
     benefit to women and children creditors. However, upon a 
     closer look, arrears assigned to the government may greatly 
     inure to the benefit of such creditors.
       In the first place the entire federal child support program 
     was created to recover support which should have been paid by 
     absent parents, but was not. Such recovered funds became and 
     remain a source of funding to pay public assistance benefits, 
     especially by the states which contribute about one half of 
     the costs of such benefits.
       More directly significant, however, is the fact that under 
     the welfare legislation of 1996 (the Personal Responsibility 
     and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act) support arrearage 
     assigned to the government and not collected during the 
     period aid is paid reverts to the custodial parent when aid 
     ceases. This scenario will become increasingly common in the 
     very near future as the five year lifetime right to public 
     assistance ends for individual custodial parents. In such 
     cases this parent will face the double whammy of being 
     disqualified from receiving the caretaker share of public 
     assistance and--because of the Senate amendments--not 
     receiving arrears or intercepted tax refunds because they 
     were assigned at the time the debtor filed for bankruptcy 
       In addition, prior to the Senate Judiciary Committee 
     amendments a debtor could not obtain confirmation of a plan 
     if he were not current in making all postpetition support 
     payments. The advantage of this scheme was that it was self-
     executing. Under the Senate amendments a debtor may obtain 
     confirmation even when he is not paying his on-going support 
     obligation. He is only required to provide for such payments 
     in his plan. In such cases it will then be the burden of the 
     support creditor to bring a bankruptcy proceeding to dismiss 
     the case if the debtor stops paying. While this procedure is 
     a welcome addition to the arsenal of remedies available to 
     support creditors, it should not have supplanted the self-
     executing remedy which required the debtor to certify he was 
     current in postpetition support payments before the court 
     could confirm the plan.
       While the Senate version of bankruptcy reform should 
     certainly be amended to restore the advantages of the earlier 
     draft, it does, even in its present form, provide crucial 
     improvements in the protections and advantages afforded 
     spousal and child support creditors over other creditors 
     during the bankruptcy process. These improvements will ease 
     the plight of all support creditors--men, women, and 
     children--whose well-being and prosperity may be wholly or 
     partially dependent on the full and timely payment of 
     support. Congress has created the federal child support 
     program within title IV-D of the Social Security Act. It is 
     the opinion of those whose job it is to carry out this 
     program that the Bankruptcy Reform Act provides the long 
     overdue assistance needed for success in collecting money 
     during bankruptcy for child and spousal support creditors.
       Most of the concerns raised by the groups opposing the bill 
     do not, in fact, center on the language of the domestic 
     support provisions themselves. Instead they are based on 
     vague generalized statements that the bill hurts debtors, or 
     the women and children living with debtors, or the ex-wives 
     and children who depend on the debtor for support. It is 
     difficult to respond point by point to such claims when they 
     provide no specifics, but they appear to fall into two 
       The first suggests that the reform legislation will result 
     in leaving debtors with greater debt after bankruptcy which 
     will ``compete'' with the claims of former spouses and 
     children. As discussed above there is little likelihood that 
     such competition would adversely affect the collection of 
     support debts. In any event the bill does little to change 
     the number or types of nondischargeable debt held by 
     commercial lenders. it will slightly expand the presumption 
     of nondischargeability for luxury goods charged during the 
     immediate pre-bankruptcy period and will make debt incurred 
     to pay a nondischargeable debt also nondischargeable. It is 
     doubtful that either provision will, in reality, have much 
     effect on the vast majority of ``poor but honest'' debtors 
     who do not use bankruptcy as a financial planning mechanism 
     or run up debts immediately before filing for bankruptcy in 
     anticipation of discharging those obligations.
       The second contention is presumably directed at a number of 
     provisions in the bill

[[Page 25806]]

     that are designed to eliminate perceived abuses by debtors in 
     the current system. The primary brunt of this attack is borne 
     by the so-called ``means testing'' or ``needs based 
     bankruptcy'' provisions which would amend the current 
     language of Section 707(b). Most of the opposition appears to 
     stem from the notion that means testing would be a wholly 
     novel proposition. Such a conclusion is plainly incorrect. 
     Virtually every court that has ever considered the issue 
     holds that Section 707(b) already includes a means test or, 
     more accurately, a hundred or a thousand means tests, one for 
     each judge who considers the issue. The current Code language 
     sets no standards or guidelines for applying this test, thus 
     leaving the outcome of a motion subject to the unstructured 
     discretion of each bankruptcy judge. The proposed bankruptcy 
     reform legislation attempts to prescribe one test that all 
     courts must apply.
       The precise terms of that standard have been under constant 
     revision since the bankruptcy reform bills were introduced 
     last year, and undoubtedly they will continue to be fine-
     tuned to ensure that they strike a balance between preventing 
     abuse and becoming unduly expensive and burdensome. But mere 
     opposition to any change in the present law, and vague claims 
     that any and all attempts to address such existing abuses as 
     serial filings are oppressive and will harm women and 
     children, does nothing to advance the dialogue. And worse, 
     the critics appear content to sacrifice the palpable 
     advantages which this legislation would provide to support 
     creditors during the bankruptcy process for defeat of this 
     legislation based on vague and unarticulated fears that women 
     will be unfairly disadvantaged as bankruptcy debtors. In more 
     ways than one the critics would favor throwing out the baby 
     with the bath water. No one who has a genuine interest in the 
     collection of support should permit such inexplicit and 
     speculative fears to supplant the specific and considerable 
     advantages which this reform legislation provides to those in 
     need of support.
           Yours very truly,
                                                Philip L. Strauss,
                                      Assistant District Attorney.

  Mr. BIDEN. Mr. President, I want to briefly address two issues that 
have been raised by the President and by the opponents of this 
legislation. I honestly believe, compared to the many substantial 
victories for the Senate position in this legislation, these two issues 
fall short of justifying a change in the overwhelming support 
bankruptcy reform has received in the last two sessions of Congress.
  First, there is the issue of this homestead cap. I heard people on 
the floor voting, saying: There is no protection in here, no protection 
at all. You just let people get away. You allow the Burt Reynolds of 
the world to go out there and buy multimillion-dollar homes and then 
declare bankruptcy. This is unfair.
  First of all, do you think any of the creditors want that to happen? 
The companies are concerned about this, along with interest groups that 
are concerned about this. And on the consumer side, do you think they 
want people being able to escape having to pay what they owe because 
they are able to bury assets in a multimillion-dollar home?
  So where is this coming from? First, the homestead cap. One of the 
most egregious examples of abuse under the current law is the ability 
of wealthy individuals, on the eve of filing for bankruptcy, having the 
ability to shelter their income from legitimate creditors by buying an 
expensive home in one of a handful of States that have an unlimited 
homestead exemption in bankruptcy. This is one of the most egregious 
abuses, but it is actually pretty rare, involving only a few of the 
millions of bankruptcies that have been filed in recent years. 
Nevertheless, it is an abuse that should be eliminated.
  There are reasons that the Senate included a strong provision. That 
was a hard cap of $100,000 in the value of a home; that is, if your 
home was worth more than $100,000, your creditors could go after the 
remainder of that money, but if it was $100,000 or less, your creditors 
could not get it because we have a principle in this country of not 
taking away your home based on bankruptcy.
  This provision, though, was struck by the House. They did not like 
the hard cap of $100,000. So what we did was we reached a compromise to 
avoid the worst abuses as a last-minute move to shelter assets from 
creditors. That last-minute move to avoid legitimate debts has been 
  To be eligible under any State's homestead exemption, a bankruptcy 
filer must have lived in that State for the last 2 years before filing. 
If you buy a home within 2 years of filing, your exemption is capped at 
$100,000. Put another way, you have to have a pretty good estate plan 
in order to escape bankruptcy by buying a multimillion-dollar home.
  You have to know, under the law, if we had passed it today--and 2 
years from now you go bankrupt--so you go out 2 years ahead of time and 
move into a State that allows you to buy a multimillion-dollar home to 
escape bankruptcy. So you move into that State 2 years ahead of time, 
and 2 years ahead of time you buy the home. You take all your assets 
that you are worried it is going to cost you, and you put them into a 
  Let me tell the Senate, that is a pretty good plan. I don't know how 
many people know over 2 years ahead of time that they are going to go 
bankrupt and take all their money out and put it into a home. Granted, 
I would prefer a hard cap, but the truth is, if you don't buy the home 
2 years prior to declaring bankruptcy, the cap is $100,000. So there 
are a lot of canards that have been used to defeat this cloture motion. 
I might say to my colleagues, if they want to eliminate the worst abuse 
of the homestead exemption, then they should have voted for the 
conference report.
  That brings me to the last major issue, the one that has, 
unfortunately, generated a lot more heat than light. That is what we 
have come to call--and I saw my colleague a moment ago--the Schumer 
amendment, because of the energy and dedication of my friend and worthy 
opponent, in this case--hardly ever in any other case--Senator Schumer. 
We all know of the confrontations, sometimes peaceful, sometimes 
tragically violent, that have occurred in recent years between pro-life 
and pro-choice groups over access to family planning clinics. Because 
of the threat to the constitutional right of the people who run those 
clinics and their patrons, Congress, with my support and President 
Clinton's signature, passed a bill, the strongest proponent of which 
was the Senator from New York, the Free Access to Clinic Entrances Act 
of 1993. The law makes it a crime punishable by fines as well as 
imprisonment to block access to family planning clinics.
  Some of those who have been arrested and prosecuted under the law 
have brazenly announced that they plan to declare bankruptcy to escape 
the consequences of their crimes, specifically to avoid paying damages. 
Some of those individuals have, in fact, filed bankruptcy. But in no 
case--in no case that I am aware of or anyone else can show me or no 
case that the Congressional Research Service was able to find--has any 
individual escaped paying a single dollar of liability by filing 
bankruptcy. Not a dollar, not a dime, not a penny, it hasn't happened. 
I don't believe it will happen.
  The reason is simple: Current bankruptcy law already states that such 
settlements for ``willful and malicious conduct'' are not dischargeable 
in bankruptcy. If that were not enough, current case law supports a 
very strong reading of the provisions of the current law. When one 
clinic demonstrator who violated a restraining order attempted to have 
a settlement against her be wiped out in bankruptcy, her claim was 
rejected out of hand by the court. The violation of the restraining 
order setting physical limits around the clinic has been ruled to be 
willful and malicious under the current code. The penalties assessed 
against the violator were not dischargeable in bankruptcy.
  I ask unanimous consent to print in the Record a letter from the 
Congressional Research Service confirming, as of October 26, that an 
exhaustive authoritative search did not reveal any reported decisions 
where such liability was discharged under U.S. bankruptcy code.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

[[Page 25807]]

                                   Congressional Research Service,

                                          Library of Congress,

                                 Washington, DC, October 26, 2000.


     To: Hon. Charles Grassley, Attention: John McMickle
     From: Robin Jeweler, Legislative Attorney, American Law 
     Subject: Westlaw/LEXIS survey of bankruptcy cases under 11 
       U.S.C. Sec. 523.

       This confirms our phone conversation of October 25, 2000. 
     You requested a comprehensive online survey of reported 
     decisions considering the dischargeability of liability 
     incurred in connection with violence at reproductive health 
     clinics by abortion protesters. Our search did not reveal any 
     reported decisions where such liability was discharged under 
     the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.
       The only reported decision identified by the search is 
     Buffalo Gyn Womenservices, Inc. v. Behn (In re Behn), 242 
     B.R. 229 (Bankr. W.D.N.Y. 1999). In this case, the bankruptcy 
     court held that a debtor's previously incurred civil 
     sanctions for violation of a temporary restraining order 
     (TRO) creating a buffer zone outside the premises of an 
     abortion service provider was nondischargeable under 11 
     U.S.C. Sec. 523(a)(6), which excepts claims for ``willful and 
     malicious'' injury. The court surveyed the extant and 
     somewhat discrepant standards for finding ``willful and 
     malicious'' conduct articulated by three federal circuit 
     courts of appeals. It granted the plaintiff's motion for 
     summary judgment and denied the debtor/defendant's motion to 
     retry the matter before the bankruptcy court. Specifically, 
     the court held:
       ``[W]hen a court of the United States issues an injunction 
     or other protective order telling a specific individual what 
     actions will cross the line into injury to others, then 
     damages resulting from an intentional violation of that order 
     (as is proven either in the bankruptcy court or (so long as 
     there was a full and fair opportunity to litigate the 
     question of volition and violation) in the issuing court) are 
     ipso facto the result of a `willful and malicious injury.' 
     ''--242 B.R. at 238.

  Mr. BIDEN. Again, Mr. President, the only case I could find, in fact, 
held, as I had predicted, that willful and malicious conduct denies you 
from being discharged in bankruptcy, in a case where a woman was 
arrested for violating a restraining order or getting too close to the 
clinic, tried to discharge the fines against her in bankruptcy, and 
could not.
  I repeat: No one has escaped liability under the Fair Access to 
Clinic Entrances Act through the abuse of the bankruptcy code, not one. 
As strongly as feelings are on both sides of this issue, the Schumer 
amendment is, I must say, a solution in search of a problem. I would 
support it just to make sure we have the extra protection, but in the 
absence of the Schumer amendment, there is no reason for the Senate to 
reverse its opinion on the legislation that had received such strong 
  We voted today on trying to get to a conference report that had a 
strong Senate stamp on it. I think we made a mistake. I think part of 
the reason why we made a mistake in not invoking cloture was we had a 
number of absences. There are 16 or 17 or 18 absences, as I count it; 
15 or thereabouts were for cloture. But we will come back to it again, 
as the majority leader has said.
  This does not in any way do anything to allow people to violate the 
free access to clinics law. And it actually helps women and children 
who depend on support payments and alimony payments. I will speak to it 
more later.
  I see the majority leader is on the floor for important business. I 
thank the Chair and yield the floor.
  Mr. LOTT. Mr. President, I thank Senator Biden for his comments and 
for yielding the floor at this time.