Magazine article American Banker

Glass-Steagall Hearings Drew Swarms of Lobbyists and Their Paid Stand-Ins

Magazine article American Banker

Glass-Steagall Hearings Drew Swarms of Lobbyists and Their Paid Stand-Ins

Article excerpt

Just how important were last week's Glass-Steagall hearings?

Important enough that an hour before the start of the House Commerce subcommittee banking reform meetings last Tuesday and Thursday, scores of people were lined up and down the hall and around the corner in the Rayburn House Office Building, waiting to get in.

But not as important as a telecommunications hearing, at least judging by how much people were willing to pay for a spot in the line. A Commerce Committee telecommunications session last month drew four dozen professional line-waiters who showed up outside the Rayburn House Office Building 42 hours before the session was scheduled to begin.

In the line-waiting pecking order of Capitol Hill, banking is big. But it's not huge, as was telecommunications this year or health care last year.

"The Glass-Steagall reform, that's been very, very popular this year," said Chris Van Horne, who pioneered the business of paying people with nothing better to do than to save places in line for lobbyists who do.

Mr. Van Horne said his CVK Group had people waiting outside the Rayburn Building five to six hours before the Banking Committee's Glass-Steagall "markup" earlier this month. John Likens, a former CVK manager who now runs competitor Congressional Services Co., said his employees were in line by midnight before the hearings.

A markup is a time when congressional panels go through bills, section by section, voting on amendments. It is, understandably, when lobbyists feel the greatest need to be on hand.

"Markups are the money hearings," said Ron Ence, director of legislative affairs for the Independent Bankers Association of America. "That's when the pencil meets the paper."

So even at prices of $25 to $32 per hour per person, Mr. Ence and other bank lobbyists have no qualms about paying the line- waiters to make sure they get in. …

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