A bipartisan bill introduced by Virginia 6th District Rep. Ben Cline, R-Botetourt, and New York 10th District Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-New York City, was signed into law by President Joe Biden on March 27, according to the U.S. federal legislative information system.
The bill, the COVID–19 Bankruptcy Relief Extension Act of 2021, builds on both the CARES Act of 2020 and a previous bipartisan Cline bill.
The new law extends a more streamlined and cost-effective path for businesses to declare bankruptcy with up to $7.5 million in debt for another year. The CARES Act previously raised the debt limit from $2.7 million to $7.5 million for one year and the cap was set to return back to $2.7 million in March.
Cline said Nadler reached out to him due to his past experience in federal bankruptcy reform.
“I agreed because I’ve been working hard to cross the aisle on areas of shared interest like helping small business through the pandemic,” Cline said.
On June 18, 2019, Cline introduced the Small Business Reorganization Act with two Democrats and one fellow Republican. The bill simplified the bankruptcy filing process for businesses with less than $2.7 million in debt — which was raised to $7.5 million in the CARES Act. The 2019 bill was signed into law on Aug. 23, 2019 and was one of Cline’s first to be enacted.
Both Cline and Nadler are members of the House Committee on the Judiciary, where Nadler is chair.
“We disagreed more often than we agreed, but on areas like bankruptcy reform, intellectual property law and antitrust law, we do find areas where we can reach bipartisan agreement,” Cline said.
He said he has also been having conversations with Nadler about how to tackle big tech.
“We are both concerned about big tech abusing its market control and we are trying to find a way to work together to address our shared concerns,” Cline said.
There has been growing bipartisan consensus on the need to tackle big tech, according to Cline.
“We both agree that when you abuse your influence in the marketplace, that’s a concern that it shouldn’t be allowed to continue,” he said.
Cline joined with nearly every other Republican to vote down Biden’s American Rescue Plan on Feb. 27 and March 10. A pair of Democrats also voted the bill down, while one Republican did not vote on Feb. 27, one Democrat voted down the bill on March 10 and one Republican did not vote. Ultimately, the bill passed the house 220-211 and the Senate 50-49 and was signed by Biden on March 11.
“I was concerned about the fact of the $1.9 trillion, only 9% was directed to COVID-specific programs and after voting for over $2 trillion in COVID assistance, I was concerned that this additional funding was more of a bailout for Democrat friends than it was about helping people address the COVID crisis,” Cline said.
Cline said he also has issues with the newest proposed infrastructure package. He said though he agrees with much in it — funding for roads, bridges, some rail and transit — he said the bill goes beyond that unnecessarily.
“We can’t be using this legislative vehicle for electric vehicle charging stations, climate conservation corps and other unrelated initiatives, even when looking at infrastructure from a broader perspective,” Cline said.