WASHINGTON - Sen. Alfonse M. D'Amato plans to bring regulatory relief legislation for the banking industry to a vote on the Senate floor this week, but several roadblocks remain.
The Senate Banking Committee chairman filed the regulatory relief package with Senate leaders last Thursday, clearing the way for a vote on the bill.
But the Senate is scheduled to adjourn this Friday, and staffers said it may be difficult to squeeze the vote in.
Also, some Republicans are pushing amendments that could kill the bill's bipartisan support, lobbyists said last week. Democratic support is necessary to move the bill quickly.
"Unless the deals are cut and everything is greased, it doesn't happen," said Bert Ely, a consultant based in Alexandria, Va.
But Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., and Sen. Connie Mack, R-Ala., the bill's authors, are working to remove Fair Credit Reporting provisions from the bill and provide more relief from Truth-in-Savings requirements, lobbyists said.
The bill already gives banks some big regulatory breaks, including reduced paperwork, less frequent exams for small banks, protection from environmental lender liability, and exemptions from home mortgage data reporting.
But the bill is watered down from a version introduced earlier this year. Stripped from the package is relief from Community Reinvestment Act rules and Truth-in-Savings disclosures. Bankers also are upset by tougher disclosure rules for consumer credit reports that were added to the bill - provisions Sen. Shelby and Sen. Mack want to drop.
If Republicans try to reopen those issues, Democrats may kill chances for a quick vote by starting a debate.
Consumer groups will push the Democrats to fight changes to the bill. "We're pretty unhappy with the bill as it is now," said Michelle Meier, Consumers Union counsel for government affairs. "It's already at the breaking point as far as protecting consumers' interests."
Banks favor provisions in the House's regulatory relief bill that repeal most Truth-in-Savings disclosure requirements other than basic account information. Those reforms were dropped from the Senate version, which removes only civil liability for Truth-in-Savings violations.
Banks will accept the watered-down version of the bill if opposition to changes is too strong. The industry's major trade groups - the American Bankers Association and the Independent Bankers Association of America - have already voiced support for the current package.
Also threatening a vote is a needed Congressional Budget Office review of the bill's impact on the federal budget. CBO analysts have been swamped by the balanced budget bill and have not had time to complete their review of the regulatory relief package. Agency staffers said Friday their analysis of the regulatory relief package should be completed early this week.
"Nothing will happen until then," said Kenneth Guenther, executive vice president of the IBAA. "The clock is really, really ticking."