Magazine article American Banker

Banking Panel to Represent Senate in Reform Conference

Magazine article American Banker

Banking Panel to Represent Senate in Reform Conference

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON -

The Senate has solved half of the key puzzle on the financial reform talks-who its negotiators are-by appointing all 20 members of the Banking Committee.

Now, supporters of the long-sought legislation to remove the barriers between the banking, insurance, and securities industries are waiting for Speaker J. Dennis Hastert to decide who will represent the House. That decision-including whether the Banking Committee will constitute a majority of the House team-is expected by Tuesday.

House Banking Chairman Jim Leach said in a statement Friday that he and House Commerce Chairman Thomas J. Bliley Jr. have submitted their recommendations to Rep. Hastert.

"Hopefully they will be appointed early next week," said Rep. Leach, who is expected to be named chairman of the conference committee. "I would like to get started-the sooner the better."

Estimates on the size of the House delegation began escalating after the Senate's decision late Thursday to send 20 members. Early predictions had forecast a much smaller Senate group, ranging from five to nine members.

"What it does is slow things down and make outcomes more unpredictable," said Bert Ely, a financial services consultant in Alexandria, Va. "It is going to be a field day for lobbyists and political campaign contributions."

Enthusiasm a few weeks ago that the legislation would be enacted before the August congressional recess has virtually disappeared, replaced by more cautious predictions of enactment this fall. Senate Banking Committee Chairman Phil Gramm last week warned lobbyists to be prepared in case the bill lingers into the 2000 presidential election year.

"This thing is not going to be done until late September at the earliest," banking lobbyist Rick Hohlt said. "The momentum is with it, but it is going to have some speed bumps along the way. …

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