Magazine article American Banker

Insurers Outlobbied Bankers

Magazine article American Banker

Insurers Outlobbied Bankers

Article excerpt

Insurers Outlobbied Bankers

WASHINGTON -- Minutes after the House voted down the omnibus banking bill Monday night, Rep. Thomas R. Carper saluted his principal antagonist, Paul Equale, the chief lobbyist for the Independent Insurance Agents of America.

"I told him, |If I didn't have a healthy respect for you before, I do now,'" recalled the Delaware Democrat, who battled long and hard against the insurance agents' effort to limit bank powers.

In the fierce lobbying battle over the bank bill on Capitol Hill, insurance agents routed the administration and banking interests whenever it came down to issues pitting one industry against another.

Pyrrhic Victory

Faced with a strong push to give banks more authority to sell and underwrite insurance, the insurance lobby successfully watered down the proposal. Indeed, the resulting amendments would have ended up rolling back the limited insurance powers banks already have.

The agents may have been victims of their own success. One reason the bill was defeated Monday is the feeling among many lawmakers that the insurance industry had won too much.

One key to the insurance industry's success was its highly visible lobbying force.

"If you were a member of Congress and looked outside the chamber" from the House floor, said Mr. Equale, "you were probably more aware of the insurance industry than anybody else."

As many as nine insurance lobbyists stood outside the elevator bank used by members of Congress heading to the floor.

"The insurance guys are out in force," said Cory N. Strupp, who heads government relations for J. …

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