Magazine article American Banker

The Lobbyists: Senate Panel Prepares for Reform Hearing

Magazine article American Banker

The Lobbyists: Senate Panel Prepares for Reform Hearing

Article excerpt

The Senate Banking Committee held a whirlwind of meetings last week with regulators and lobbyists in preparation for its June 17 hearing on financial reform legislation.

Republican and Democratic staffers met with Federal Reserve Board General Counsel J. Virgil Mattingly Jr. and securities industry lobbyists on Wednesday; insurance industry officials on Thursday; and banking lobbyists and Treasury Under Secretary John D. Hawke Jr. on Friday. Meetings are slated this week with more bank, thrift, and insurance regulators, as well as with thrift and consumer lobbyists.

Many committee staffers are trying to play catch-up on a complex issue, their guests said.

David J. Pratt, chief lobbyist for the American Insurance Association, said committee staff wanted to know if insurance lobbyists could mediate the feud between the Fed and Treasury. "We said no," he said. "We can't. We aren't relevant to them."

Edward L. Yingling, chief lobbyist for the American Bankers Association, said his meeting with staffers focused on the controversies embedded in the legislation. "I didn't sense any great enthusiasm for moving the bill this year," he said.

In the month since the House approved its version of financial reform, the Independent Bankers Association of America's opposition has weakened.

"There is a little bit of a split in the IBAA right now," admitted Kenneth A. Guenther, executive vice president.

Officially, the IBAA remains opposed to the bill. Along with the American Bankers Association and the Bankers Roundtable, the group sent a letter June 2 to Senate Banking Committee Chairman Alfonse M. D'Amato blasting the bill as "flawed."

But the united front is starting to show some cracks.

For example, community bankers back the bill's changes to the Federal Home Loan Bank System and support a ban on mixing banking and commerce, Mr. …

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