Boosting the chances for enactment of financial reform this year, House Banking Committee leaders have agreed to merge conflicting bills and vote on consensus legislation early next month.

"We have agreed to work together over the next several weeks," Rep. Jim Leach, the committee chairman, and Rep. John J. LaFalce, the ranking Democrat, said in a joint statement. "While there will be several issues on which we may not concur, we believe there is agreement on the vast majority of provisions of the proposed legislation."

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