WASHINGTON -- A coalition of consumer groups. told President Clinton on Monday that a Senate-passed interstate branching bill may bar states from enforcing consumer protection laws, and urged him to support a House measure instead.

The House bill stipulates that state laws apply to the branches of national banks headquartered out-of-state.

"This language would ensure that state laws governing consumer protection, fair lending, community reinvestment, and interstate branching apply to the branches of national banks in the same way that those laws would apply to branches Of state-chartered banks," they said in a letter last week.

Statement to Lawmakers

Last year, President Clinton told the California state legislature that he did not want to preempt state laws. "In terms of interstate banking I know of no reason that we would want to do that," he said.

The groups, which included the Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union, and Public Citizen, urged him to keep that promise.

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