WASHINGTON -- The House and Senate appear to be moving quickly toward negotiations on interstate branching legislation, raising the prospect that it could be ready for President Clinton's signature by Memorial Day.

Staffers have already begun meeting on the bill, and congressional and industry sources said last week that a formal conference committee meeting could begin the week of May 16. Although the timetable would then be tight, it would permit floor votes before the Memorial Day recess at month's end.

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