Rep. Henry B. Gonzalez of Texas, the top Democrat on the House Banking Committee, asked the Clinton administration last week to preserve "essential" protections in the Glass-Steagall Act.

In a Jan. 30 letter to Treasury Secretary Robert E. Rubin, Rep. Gonzalez advised "utmost caution" in drafting legislation that would allow commercial ownership of banks. "Times have changed, but human nature has not," Rep. Gonzalez wrote. "Many of our banking laws have been enacted in response to the excesses and improper conduct of the industry."

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