Congressman Steve Cohen

Representing the 9th District of Tennessee

Congressman Cohen’s National Guard and Reservists Debt Relief Bill Reported Out by Judiciary Committee

July 11, 2019
Press Release
Permits veterans to avoid “means test” when filing for bankruptcy

WASHINGTON – Today, the House Judiciary Committee voted to advance Congressman Steve Cohen’s (TN-09) bill to ensure that certain members of the National Guard and Reserves can obtain bankruptcy relief without filing substantial paperwork required by the “means test” under Chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code. With the Committee’s vote today, the bill is headed to the House floor.  

Congressmen Cohen, a senior member of the committee, introduced the National Guard and Reservists Debt Relief Extension Act (H.R. 3304) on June 18, along with Rep. Ben Cline (R-VA), Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN) and Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-PA). 

President Obama signed Congressman Cohen’s 2015 version of the National Guard and Reservists Debt Relief Extension Act which expires in December. The bill approved by the committee today extends the relief for another four years. 

Congressman Cohen made the following statement: 

“I am pleased my Judiciary Committee colleagues from both sides of the aisle saw the wisdom of protecting our veterans and voted for this bill. The idea of relieving our veterans of burdensome paperwork was good when first proposed and it’s good now.  This bill is a way for our nation to recognize the sacrifice made by National Guard and Reserve members who have served on active duty or homeland defense since September 11 and may be suffering financial hardship. We are currently engaged in our longest war, and those returning home today should have the same, fair process we provided for since 2008.” 

See what Congressman Cohen said at the committee markup today here

Background: 

In 2005, President Bush signed the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act into law (Public Law 109–8, 119 Stat. 23).  Among the many changes it made was the establishment of a “means test” to determine a debtor’s ability to repay debts. Under this test, a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case is presumed to be an abuse of the bankruptcy process if it appears that the debtor has income in excess of certain thresholds. 

The National Guard and Reservists Debt Relief Act of 2008, Public Law No. 110-438, created an exception to the means test’s presumption of abuse for members of the National Guard and Reserve who, after September 11, 2001, served on active duty or in a homeland defense activity for at least 90 days.  The exception is also available for 540 days after the servicemember leaves the military.  The National Guard and Reservist Debt Relief Extension Act of 2015 extended the exemption through December 2019.