To try to break the impasse on financial reform legislation, Senate leaders said Thursday that they will hold a bipartisan meeting the week of April 12.
Senate Banking Committee Chairman Phil Gramm said he and his Democratic counterpart, Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes, will meet with Majority Leader Trent Lott and Minority Leader Thomas A. Daschle after Congress returns from a two-week recess that starts today.
Sen. Gramm's reform bill, after passing Senate Banking on a party-line vote March 4, is unlikely to progress further without a compromise.
The bill would exempt small, rural financial institutions from the Community Reinvestment Act, make it harder for community groups to block bank mergers, and impose tight restrictions on new powers for bank subsidiaries.
Democrats oppose Sen. Gramm's CRA-related provisions and have offered an alternative that would impose CRA requirements on banks that merge with insurance or securities companies. Their plan would also grant more powers to bank subsidiaries.
"We believe there's a majority to pass our bill," a spokeswoman for Sen. Daschle said Thursday. "We certainly believe it could be signed by the President, which is a big difference between our bill and Sen. Gramm's."
President Clinton has threatened to veto Sen. Gramm's bill.