WASHINGTON — Compromise bankruptcy reform legislation, long pursued by retailers and on the back burner for months, passed the House Thursday, but the bill still faces uncertainty.
“It’s just a matter of getting it done before Congress leaves town,” said Mallory Duncan, vice president and general counsel at the National Retail Federation.
The bill, which would require more bankruptcy filers to repay at least a portion of their debts, now moves to the Senate. Although the measure has bipartisan support, Democratic opponents are threatening a filibuster. Such a delay could kill the measure, given the Senate’s busy agenda. Congress is set to adjourn some time next week. The bankruptcy bill on deck is a compromise between House and Senate measures passed earlier this year.
Another hurdle is a threatened veto. President Clinton has complained the bill is unfair to working-class debtors. Although a veto could be overridden, Clinton could choose to wait until Congress adjourns before exercising his veto, depriving lawmakers the chance to override and spell a second major defeat for bankruptcy-reform supporters. In 1998, a bill was cast aside as Congress adjourned.

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