Washington (July 29, 2002) -- The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to pass the final version of a bankruptcy bill that would make it tougher to walk away from debts, Reuters reported.

President Bush is expected to sign the measure, which is backed by banks, credit-card companies, auto-finance companies and other lenders, who argue the system is being abused by people who can afford to pay some of their debts, Reuters said. Opponents, including academics, labor unions and consumer groups, say lenders should shoulder some of the blame for fostering lax lending standards.

Accord over the remaining difference in competing versions of the measure was reached during a House-Senate conference committee last week. The disagreements reportedly stemmed from an abortion-related issue. Democrats wanted to ensure that protesters who block access to medical clinics that perform abortions would be prohibited from avoiding court-ordered fines or judgements by declaring bankruptcy. Republicans wanted wording on the issue proposed by Sen. Charles Schumer of New York removed, saying it could hurt nonviolent protesters who unintentionally break the law, according to the Reuters report.

Schumer and Hyde reportedly agreed last week to "tweak" the language by removing "reproductive health services" from the bill and replacing it with general wording that still ensures that abortion clinic protesters are not able to hide behind bankruptcy laws, Reuters said.

-- Electronic Accountant Newswire staff

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