The thrift industry has been putting the full-court press on Congress, urging lawmakers to pass legislation rescuing the vulnerable Savings Association Insurance Fund.

Individual institutions have been deluging their congressmen with letters urging support for the bill, which is tacked onto the massive, stalled balanced budget measure.

Officials of America's Community Bankers scored a meeting with House Speaker Newt Gingrich last week and will press the issue next week during a two-day conference here.

Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan, in a March 4 letter to Rep. Edward R. Royce, R-Calif., endorsed quick enactment of the bill, which would capitalize SAIF with a one-time fee on thrift deposits. Banks would have to pitch in, too, paying the bulk of annual interest due on bonds floated in the 1980s to finance the industry's first bailout.

Without legislation, Mr. Greenspan said institutions will move deposits out of the higher-cost thrift fund into the Bank Insurance.

"The solution to this problem is to end this game and merge SAIF and BIF," the Fed chairman wrote.

Rep. Royce forwarded Mr. Greenspan's letter to Rep. Gingrich.

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