Antitrust Subcommittee Hears Testimony on Student Debt Crisis, Bankruptcy Reform

Jun 25, 2019

Chairman Cicilline pledges solutions for working people


WASHINGTON – The U.S. House Antitrust Subcommittee, led by Chairman David N. Cicilline (D-RI), held a hearing this morning on possible solutions for the student debt crisis, as well as ways to make it easier for small business owners, farmers, and veterans to use the bankruptcy system to offload debt.


“We are in a crisis moment when it comes to student loan debt,” said Cicilline, who is also a co-sponsor of the Student Borrower Bankruptcy Relief Act (H.R. 2648) and the Small Business Reorganization Act (H.R. 3311). “There’s no other way to put it. The same is true for working people all across our economy. Congress has a responsibility to make it easier for people to pay off their debt and, when necessary, to use the bankruptcy system to get back on their feet. That’s why we held today’s hearing, and that’s why we’re going to move quickly to bring solutions to the House floor.”


The amount of student loan debt has tripled in the last 15 years. It will hit $2 trillion by 2022. The bipartisan Student Borrower Bankruptcy Relief Act will provide bankruptcy relief for Americans who are overwhelmed with crippling student loan debt. The bill eliminates a section of existing law that makes both private and federal student loans non-dischargeable, meaning they will be treated like most other consumer debt.


In addition, the Small Business Reorganization Act, which Cicilline introduced last week with Congressman Ben Cline (R-VA), allows businesses with less than $2.5 million in debt to file for bankruptcy in a timelier and more cost-effective manner. While in bankruptcy reorganization, a small business will be able to negotiate with creditors while keeping the doors open, employees on payroll, and suppliers and vendors paid.


Cicilline’s Subcommittee heard from the following witnesses this morning:


  • Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL)
    • Senate sponsor of the Student Borrower Bankruptcy Relief Act
  • Representative Ben Cline (R-VA)
  • Sponsor of the Small Business Reorganization Act
  • Sponsor of the Puerto Rico Recovery Accuracy in Disclosures Act
  • Sponsor of the Family Farmer Relief Act
  • Former Assistant Director, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Office of Servicemember Affairs
  • National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys
  • National Consumer Law Center
  • University of California, Irvine School of Law
  • American Bankruptcy Institute
  • Former Bankruptcy Judge, National Bankruptcy Conference
  • Representative Nydia Velázquez (D-NY)
  • Representative Antonio Delgado (D-NY)
  • K. Holly Petraeus
  • Edward C. Boltz
  • John Rao
  • Professor Dalié Jiménez
  • Robert Keach
  • Judge Thomas Small


The bills considered in the Antitrust Subcommittee will be brought up soon by the full Judiciary Committee.