The Blizzard of '96 kept banking and thrift regulators from doing much work last week as the federal government was closed every day except Thursday.

Still, Douglas E. Harris, senior deputy comptroller for capital markets, made it in every day of the shutdown to "clear stacks of paper off my desk," he said. Maybe he was waiting for a phone call from the White House. Mr. Harris is a finalist for chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

First a cold, then last week's East Coast freeze forced House Banking Committee Chairman Jim Leach to cancel a trip home, where he was scheduled to speak to a Rotary Club and other groups.

But no self-respecting Iowan is going let a little snow, or even a lot, stop him from getting things done. Rep. Leach made the best of it by four- wheeling it to a television station to tape an episode of "Face the Nation" and invited a few reporters to his home for interviews.

He also made good on his Iowa speech commitments by delivering them over the telephone.

The storm also didn't keep Federal Reserve Board Vice Chairman Alan Blinder from flying to New York Wednesday for a speech to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Outside the Northeast, work at the regional offices of the bank regulatory agencies went on as usual - a little better than usual in fact.

"It's been wonderfully peaceful," said John Robinson, San Francisco- based western regional director for the Office of Thrift Supervision. "There are some real advantages to having Washington snowbound."


Unlike some of his more hot-blooded Republican colleagues, Chairman Leach has not unleashed fiery rhetoric on Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin for skirting the federal debt ceiling because of the budget impasse.

But that doesn't mean the Iowa Republican was happy when the Treasury secretary issued IOUs to federal pension plans in order to issue new government bonds.

In fact, Rep. Leach wants Mr. Rubin to testify Jan. 30 before the banking committee and explain what measures Treasury will use to keep the government from default when the latest stopgap funds run out in mid- February.

In a Jan. 8 letter to the Treasury secretary, Rep. Leach called the recent fiscal acrobatics shortsighted because they took away pressure for a quick solution to the budget fight.

In his inimitable prose, Rep. Leach complained that Treasury's "delaying tactics" contribute to the country's "rhetorical division." The longer the fight continues, he wrote, the less likely a settlement will be reached "in an atmosphere of social comity."

Last week Rep. Leach joined other Republicans who cautioned that further maneuvers may overstep Mr. Rubin's legal authority. Among the agenda items for the Jan. 30 hearing: Treasury's legal basis for getting around the debt limit.


Rep. Sonny Bono hasn't exactly turned Capitol Hill upside down with his legislative agenda, but to be fair, he's just a freshman.

Still, the California Republican's novice status wasn't a problem for Brian Conklin, who cashed in after just one year as Rep. Bono's legislative director. Mr. Conklin left Rep. Bono's office at the end of December to become policy manager for the Bank of America's Washington office.

During 1995 Mr. Conklin served as Rep. Bono's primary aide on banking issues. Prior to Rep. Bono's election, Mr. Conklin was his finance director and deputy campaign manager.

In his new post, Mr. Conklin will track banking legislation, make policy recommendations, and assist the bank's lobbying staff.

Mr. Conklin is a 1993 graduate of California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.

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