Magazine article American Banker

House Panel Goes against Grain to Hand Banks a Pair of Victories

Magazine article American Banker

House Panel Goes against Grain to Hand Banks a Pair of Victories

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON - Banks won a sizable victory last week when the House Banking Committee voted 36 to 14 to provide financial incentives for community reinvestment and then adopted a package of regulatory relief measures on a voice vote.

But while those actions seemed to belie the liberal impression most bankers have of the banking committee, few observers believe those votes can be duplicated on a regular basis.

"That vote was probably the high water mark for that coalition." said Stephen J. Verdier, a lobbyist for the Independent Bankers Association of America.

Heavyweight Sponsors

Many analysts believe the 36-to-14 vote to fund the Bank Enterprise Act reflects the prestige of its sponsors. Rep. Floyd Flake, D-N.Y., and Rep. Jim Leach, R-Iowa.

"What it comes down to is that people like Floyd Flake," said James J. Butera, a financial institutions lobbyist.

Mr. Flake, a black Democrat who is heavily involved in community redevelopment in his Queens, N.Y., district, "gave liberals cover" to vote for the measure, said another lobbyist.

Moreover, community groups say they didn't lobby against the Flake-Leach provision, which they oppose, because the Clinton administration assured them they could deal with it.

"They basically said, don't worry, it's under control," said Chris Lewis, the banking lobbyist for the Consumer Federation of America.

Building a Coalition

Still, the vote on the Flake-Leach measure gives bankers "a list to work with" in approaching future votes, said Joseph Belew, president of the Consumer Bankers Association. …

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