News Releases

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash) voted against a bankruptcy reform bill that would punish ordinary American families. Murray said the bill would especially hurt military families and those struggling with massive medical bills. She expressed her disappointment that Republican leaders blocked attempts to balance the bill protecting the elderly, workers, retirees, victims of identity theft, and others.

Despite Senator Murray's "no" vote, the bill (S.256) passed the full Senate 74-25.

Senator Murray released the following statement:



"Today I voted against a bankruptcy bill that puts credit card companies and politics ahead of ordinary Americans. Rather than providing balanced reform, this bill punishes those who have fallen on hard times – particularly our military families and those who are struggling under the weight of soaring medical bills.



I have heard from residents across Washington state that the cost of medical care is forcing them into bankruptcy. In fact, a report last summer by the Working for Health Coalition found that half of Washington state bankruptcies were due to rising health care costs. Most of these families are working and more than half have health insurance, but the growing cost of healthcare is so overwhelming it pushes them into bankruptcy. A national study last month found that 61 percent of bankruptcy filers did not seek the medical care they needed. These families deserve help, but instead this bill punishes them for circumstances beyond their control



This bill also fails to adequately protect our military families, particularly our Guard and Reserve members. These patriotic families have had to struggle with half their normal income during long – and often extended – deployments. Many have seen their businesses collapse at home while they've served overseas. I've met with Washington state Guard and Reserve families and have seen how they are struggling to meet the financial burdens of long deployments. They deserve a lifeline, not more paperwork, legal fees, and threats from collection agencies. The Senate had an opportunity to protect our soldiers through Senator Durbin's amendment, but that was rejected for a Republican amendment that falls far short. Our military families deserve better.



If Republicans had been willing to make the bill less punitive toward ordinary Americans, they would have adopted a number of reasonable amendments in committee and on the Senate floor, but they refused. For example, Republicans blocked an amendment that would have protected workers and retirees if their company files for bankruptcy. Republicans also voted down amendments to ensure the elderly don't lose their homes and to discourage predatory lending. And they even failed to protect people who have had their identities stolen by criminals who then run up huge credit card bills. These are all examples of how Republicans are protecting corporate interests at the expense of vulnerable individuals.



This bankruptcy bill also stacks the deck against women and children. For example, this bill will make it harder for single mothers to collect the past-due child support they and their children are owed.



I'm also disappointed that the Senate rejected the Schumer Amendment, which would have assured that those who commit violent crimes at reproductive-health facilities against women and doctors do not escape paying their debts and fines by declaring bankruptcy.



Looking at the big picture, this bill fits a pattern of Republican proposals that turn the tide against average Americans. Last month, Republicans tipped the scales of justice against working families by limiting their ability to seek compensation for a death or injury caused by a company's negligence. On Monday, Republicans rejected a proposal to raise the minimum wage. Taken together, these actions will make life harder for working families and represent a dangerous trend that threatens average Americans.



In the past, I have voted for bankruptcy reform legislation, but today families find themselves in a much different place financially because of the costs of healthcare and military service. Congress should not punish them for things beyond their control with this unbalanced, unfair bill. American families deserve reform, not retribution."