Magazine article American Banker

Dingell Still Haunting the Industry

Magazine article American Banker

Dingell Still Haunting the Industry

Article excerpt

"Big John" Dingell has been deposed as chairman of the House Commerce Committee, but the panel's antibank traditions live on.

That became clear this week when the committee's new chairman, Republican Rep. Thomas Bliley of Virginia, readied legislation that would authorize states to set limits on the insurance powers of national banks. The Bliley measure is a potential "killer amendment." If it is attached to the House Banking Committee bill that would repeal the Glass-Steagall Act, repeal is all but dead for this year.

The reason is simple. The insurance lobby is probably strong enough to line up votes on the House floor for the Bliley bill. But the banking industry has enough muscle to block legislation that contains the Bliley language, if not in the House then in the Senate, where the rules make it easier to obstruct a bill.

And there's no doubt that the banking industry would fight a bill that includes the Bliley amendment. Many banks, convinced that they can get all the new powers they want through the courts, the states, and the federal regulatory agencies, are only lukewarm to begin with on Glass-Steagall repeal.

And almost no one in banking is willing to trade away insurance powers for expanded authority to underwrite securities.

For now, there is reason to believe that Rep. Bliley and his supporters in the insurance industry are in a very strong position in the House. His co-sponsors are expected to include Rep. Dingell - knicknamed "Big John," as much for his imposing size as for the political power he once wielded - and Rep. Gerald Solomon, chairman of the all-important House Rules Committee.

Rules, which serves as gatekeeper for the House floor, will decide whether the Bliley bill is brought before the full House. Rules could make it in order as an amendment to the Glass-Steagall bill or even write it into the text of the measure. …

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