WASHINGTON - House Banking Committee Chairman Jim Leach blasted the Independent Insurance Agents of America Friday, accusing them of "reneging" on an agreement to remain "neutral-to-supportive" of his Glass-Steagall bill.

"I kept my word to you to keep the status quo - i.e., neutrality," Rep. Leach wrote. "Without the courtesy of even speaking with me, you backtracked on your commitment."

Rep. Leach said the agents had agreed to refrain from opposing his bill if he did not tackle insurance issues. However, after the banking panel finished work on the bill, the agents attacked it, charging that it did not bar the Comptroller of the Currency from authorizing new insurance powers.

"The revocation of your commitment must be understood as troubling," Rep. Leach added. "Just as an individual's word is crucial in human relations, so is an organization's in the legislative process."

A spokesman for the insurance agents declined to comment but said the group would address the issue directly with Rep. Leach.

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