The House voted Tuesday to add a new section to the bankruptcy code specifically for banks, a measure meant to provide an alternative to President Obama's financial reform law for ensuring that big banks can fail without bailouts.

The legislation "ensures that shareholders and creditors, not taxpayers, bear the losses related to the failure of a financial company," said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, speaking on the House floor Tuesday.

Rep. Jeb Hensarling, chairman of the Financial Services Committee, called the bill's passage the "first step to ending 'too big to fail' once and for all," with the second step being House passage of another bill later this week to remove the ability for government regulators to take over a failing bank granted in the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law.

The bill passed by voice vote.

The Republican House passed the bank bankruptcy legislation last Congress, but it was not taken up by the then Democratic-led Senate. Republicans in the Senate have not advanced similar legislation this year.

The House legislation is meant to address the special obstacles to a bank going through a quick bankruptcy without causing a panic. Such provisions were not in place in 2008, when the disorderly failure of investment bank Lehman Brothers worsened the financial crisis and several other banks received bailouts.

Under Dodd-Frank, banks are supposed to follow the existing bankruptcy code in case of a failure, but the law also contains provisions for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to step in and manage a failure if necessary.