WASHINGTON -- The House Banking Committee is expected to drop its consumer subcommittee and create a new panel to focus on securities markets issues, including derivatives.

Incoming House Banking Committee Chairman Jim Leach, R-Iowa, on Wednesday proposed a number of changes in the subcommittee makeup of the panel, including a new capital markets, securities and government-sponsored enterprises subcommittee.

"It's another signal that the whole securities area will be very important to the Banking Committee," said Joe Belew, president of the Consumer Bankers Association. "Chairman-to-be Leach has been very interested in derivatives and this may be a signal that it will be with us all next year."

Although the changes have not been finalized, a congressional staff member said that the proposals probably accurately represent how the Banking Committee will look next year.

"I haven't heard any opposition to this -- there's not been anybody who said 'O God, this is awful," said a congressional staff member. "There may be subtle changes to this, but I doubt that there will be anything major. It offers a lot of different opportunities for members, and it's well thought out."

Under the proposed jurisdictional changes, the powerful new financial institutions and consumer credit subcommittee will cover all supervisory and regulatory issues concerning financial institutions and regulators. Areas such as the Community Reinvestment Act and Truth in Lending, formerly covered by the now-dissolved consumer credit and insurance subcommittee, will fall under its authority as well.

According to congressional sources, Rep. Marge Roukema, R-N.J., will chair this panel.

The housing and community development panel will change its name to housing and community opportunity, and will now cover federal insurance programs, such as flood insurance. Rep. Doug Bereuter, R-Neb., is rumored to be in-line to head this panel.

Federal Reserve monetary policy will now be addressed by the domestic and international monetary policy subcommittee, which will also cover coinage and Defense Production Act matters. A spokesperson for Rep. Toby Roth said that the Wisconsin Republican is leaning towards the chairman's seat on this panel.

The only subcommittee that will remain untouched is the general oversight panel.

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