When the cameras are running, Sen. Alfonse M. D'Amato is ready and willing to let America know what's on his mind - Whitewater, the Mexican peso, the collapse of Daiwa Bank, even his on-again, off-again engagement to television gossip personality Claudia Cohen.

But though Republicans expected their takeover of Congress to usher in a tidal wave of deregulation and pro-business legislation, the Senate Banking Committee chairman has been conspicuously quiet on his plans for updating banking laws.

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