FINANCE | The U.S. government is considering a new bill that would allow people to file for bankruptcy protection after a period of time in which they owe more than the minimum amount allowed.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is examining a bill from Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) that would make it easier for borrowers to file bankruptcy when they have $5,000 or more in outstanding student loan debt.
The bureau has not set a date for its final report, but it is expected to address several key questions about how it would enforce its rules and determine if other parts of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act could be expanded.
“It would be really good if we were to make this the rule of law,” said Scott Bloch, senior vice president of banking and credit analysis at the New York University School of Law.
“It would help to make it a lot easier for people to get out of debt.”
The bureau is expected soon to issue its final rule on what kinds of debts are considered delinquent and which parts of Dodd-Broker are not.
The rule is expected by early next year, according to a draft circulated by the bureau on Tuesday.
It would be subject to Senate confirmation, and it would likely be signed into law by President Donald Trump.
The bill would make loans under $5 million, with repayment plans that would be available for up to two years, subject to a certain amount of payments, such as interest or fees.
If borrowers cannot meet their payments, the government would consider them in default and take other steps to recover.
It could take a longer time to collect debt.
The bill would also allow borrowers to petition for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
The current process is cumbersome, costly and complicated, said Elizabeth Cote, senior counsel at the Consumer Financial Technology Association, a trade group.
The bureau would be required to set up a process that allows people to request a bankruptcy protection, which would take two to three months, according the draft.
The consumer group also said that the bill would be a significant departure from previous legislation.
The Dodd-Warner Act of 2008 required all consumer debt to be filed with the federal government and allowed borrowers to opt out of the program if they did not have enough funds to meet their debts.
In the bill, the bureau is proposing a process to allow borrowers who have a lot of debt to file and request for bankruptcy.
That would allow them to have more time to pay their debts, but not for longer than two years.
They would also have the option to file Chapter 7, which is a type of bankruptcy.
Blumenthal’s bill would allow borrowers with more than $5.4 million in outstanding loans to file a Chapter 7 petition with the government.
The proposed bill would exempt some borrowers from filing bankruptcy if they can show they can make their payments.
It is not clear how many borrowers would be exempt.
The legislation is also a big change from the Dodds-Warners legislation that set up the consumer watchdog.
In the Dodd legislation, lenders were required to make sure borrowers could pay their student loans, but the bureau would not require them to.
In a statement, the agency said it would work with lawmakers to improve the law and ensure it was working to make lending easier.
It also said the bureau had “greater flexibility in terms of how to collect and handle debt, as we continue to address issues around foreclosures and repossessions.”