Republican leaders said they put the class-action bill at the top of the agenda because it had the most support among Democrats. The next piece of legal legislation before the Senate is a bill that would make it harder for companies and individuals to escape debts by declaring bankruptcy.
Under the proposal, debtors would have to pass a "means test." If their income is greater than the country's median income, they could not seek bankruptcy protection.
"The vast majority of people believe that individuals who file for bankruptcy should be required to pay back some of their debts if they have the means to do so," the bill's author, Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), said at a hearing to debate provisions of the legislation. "This is precisely what the bankruptcy reform legislation does."
The issue has been under consideration for years, but legislation has been stymied by a provision, introduced by Sen. Charles D. Schumer (D-N.Y.), that would prevent antiabortion activists from declaring bankruptcy to avoid paying damages when a court fines them for violence or other disruptions at abortion clinics.