The American Bankers Association Wednesday endorsed House Banking Committee Chairman Jim Leach's stripped-down banking reform bill.

"Congress does still have a real opportunity to enact regulatory burden relief legislation," ABA president James M. Culberson Jr. wrote in a letter to Rep. Leach.

Mr. Culberson called the new plan a "down payment on comprehensive reform."

Rep. Leach's latest plan combines parts of his Glass-Steagall repeal and regulatory relief bills. He dropped efforts to move a more comprehensive financial modernization bill on June 11. His new bill cuts a host of banking rules, but does not weaken the Community Reinvestment Act. It also expands the regulators' authority to grant new powers for bank holding companies, but prohibits affiliations with securities firms or insurance companies.

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