WASHINGTON - Hoping to preclude congressional action, a diverse crew of bankers, community activists, and mayors plans to announce support for the revised Community Reinvestment Act rules today.
The group, which includes NationsBank Corp., Chemical Banking Corp., the Home Savings of America unit of H.F. Ahmanson & Co., BankAmerica Corp., and the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, plans to issue a statement this morning urging lawmakers to shelve any fixes until the rules have had time to take effect.
A Senate committee is expected to debate the future of CRA at a hearing Wednesday.
"We believe that the final CRA regulations are a significant move in the right direction," the group will say in a prepared statement. "The new rules respond to many of the concerns that have been raised over the years by financial industry groups, community groups, public officials, and others. Now, we urge they be given a chance to work."
Catherine Bessant, a senior vice president at $169 billion-asset NationsBank, said regulators, bankers, and activists have worked too long creating regulations everyone can accept to let Congress destroy them.
"We want to be a part of this because consensus is perceived to be a rare thing in community reinvestment," she said. "But there is a tremendous amount of consensus about these regs."
Recognizing that consensus, the disparate interests decided to unite to make a joint statement, said Center for Community Change general counsel Allen Fishbein.
"The idea came out really from seeing the initial reactions from the industry and the community sides being pretty positive about the new regs, and it dawned on us that there is a story here," said Mr. Fishbein, one of several community activists expected to appear.
The Enterprise Foundation, a nonprofit group based in suburban Washington, coordinated the effort and brought in the National League of Cities, National Association of State Housing Agencies, and U.S. Conference of Mayors.
Mary Trigg, a spokeswoman for $53 billion-asset Home Savings, said regulators have created a system that can work effectively. "We are very supportive of the overall effort and much of what is in it," she said. "We want to wait and see how it's administered."