Magazine article American Banker

House GOP Bosses Meet Today to Call Shots on Reg Relief Bill

Magazine article American Banker

House GOP Bosses Meet Today to Call Shots on Reg Relief Bill

Article excerpt

The regulatory relief bill's defining moment may come today as House Republican leaders gather to decide the legislation's destiny.

House Speaker Newt Gingrich wants the bill's problems worked out before it comes up for a vote on the House floor. To that end, the Georgia Republican has called a meeting today of the chairmen of the three key committees - Banking, Commerce, and Rules.

At the meeting, the GOP vanguard is likely to make the final call on whether to include a controversial provision that would permit banks to affiliate with insurance companies in states that allow it.

The measure, added to the bill by Rep. Richard Baker, R-La., would spark a firestorm on the House floor.

"What the leadership wants to prevent more than anything else is forcing the House Republicans, particularly the freshmen, to take sides in a bitter internal dispute between the banking and insurance lobbies," said Kenneth A. Guenther, executive vice president of the Independent Bankers Association of America.

Mr. Guenther predicted the bill would encounter "smooth sailing" if the Baker amendment were dropped.

House leaders may indeed ax controversial provision, sources said Friday.

Speaker Gingrich already has made it clear that he wants the insurance industry pacified. In fact, last month he instructed House Banking Committee Chairman Jim Leach to find a way to mollify the insurers. Rep. Leach responded by inserting language that would block the Comptroller of the Currency from expanding insurance powers for national banks.

The delicate balance achieved by Rep. Leach's amendment was destroyed by Rep. Baker's affiliations provision, added during House Banking's deliberations on the bill last month.

The Baker amendment caused the Independent Insurance Agents of America, as well as the IBAA, to turn against the bill.

In a July 7 letter to House Banking Committee Chairman Jim Leach, Mr. …

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