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Steve C.
Democrat TN 9

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  • National Guard and Reservist Debt Relief Extension Act of 2015

    by Representative Steve Cohen

    Posted on 2015-12-16

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    COHEN. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

    Mr. Conyers is the ranking member, and I appreciate his support just as I appreciate Mr. Goodlatte for bringing this bill to the floor. Bills don't get to the floor without the chairman of the committee having recommended them; so I thank Mr. Goodlatte and I thank Mr. Conyers, as I have been thinking about the apology for slavery and Jim Crow that came to this floor 7 years ago but that wouldn't have without the work of then-Chairman Conyers; so I thank him again.

    Today, I thank Mr. Forbes and my other sponsors, Mr. Nadler and Mr. Rohrabacher, who have cosponsored this bill with me.

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H.R. 4246, the National Guard and Reservist Debt Relief Extension Act of 2015.

    This bipartisan legislation ensures that certain members of the National Guard and Reserves who fall on hard economic times after their service will continue to obtain the bankruptcy relief which we have granted them in the past so they won't have to fill out substantial paperwork that is required by the so-called ``means test'' under chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code and meet that test.

    The means test came into effect about 10 years ago when President Bush signed into law what is called the BAPCPA, the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act, which made numerous amendments to the bankruptcy law. It provided a means test, which made it more difficult to get into bankruptcy court. This gives National Guardsmen and reservists an opportunity to extinguish their debts without having to go through that difficult test.

    The National Guard and Reservist Debt Relief Act of 2008 created an exception to the means test's presumption of abuse for members of the National Guard and Reserves who after September 11 served on Active Duty or in a homeland defense activity for at least 90 days. The exception remains available for 540 days after the servicemember leaves the military.

    Many servicemembers, we know, are subjected to unscrupulous lenders and payday loans, and we have seen stories that show that up to, I think, 11 percent of servicemembers have been taking out payday loans. Eleven percent of enlisted personnel in the Active Duty military obtain these loans, which include vehicle title loans, pawnshop loans, and other high-interest loans; so they are preyed upon.

    In understanding they give service to our country and are preyed upon by folks near the military establishment in the communities, it is appropriate that we give them this relief. It is a way for our Nation to recognize the sacrifices made by National Guard and Reserve members who have served on Active Duty or in homeland defense since September 11 and who may be suffering from financial hardship.

    The bill is supported by the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys and by the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

    Again, I thank Mr. Goodlatte and Ranking Member Conyers and my fellow cosponsors; and I urge all of my colleagues to support this bill.

    Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.

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