House Banking Committee Republicans agreed Wednesday to give the panel's five subcommittees more power.

Under the rules they adopted, a majority of Republicans may insist that legislation be approved by a subcommittee before the committee votes on it.

The measure, approved without opposition, was a response to complaints that Banking Committee Chairman Jim Leach had dominated the financial reform debate in the last Congress.

The new rule would let a majority of committee Republicans override Rep. Leach's decision to bring a bill before the panel without first "referring" it to a subcommittee.

Reps. Marge Roukema and Richard Baker, who both lead key banking subcommittees, pushed for the change.

"This gives more deference to subcommittees," said Rep. Roukema, R-N.J.

The panel defeated a separate measure, sponsored by Rep. Bruce Vento, D- Minn., that would have required all bills to be approved by a subcommittee before consideration by the committee.

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