Leach will have to give up his banking committee chairmanship in the next Congress, thanks to the six-year limit the GOP put on committee chairs when it won control of Congress in 1994.

LaFalce, the diminutive, wise-cracking, 13-term congressman from Upstate New York, has been waiting in the wings for years to make his mark. His agenda includes initiatives to require greater disclosures on credit cards, measures attacking so-called predatory lenders, support of lifeline banking and tougher standards on privacy. As the ranking Democrat on the banking committee, LaFalce played a major role in crafting the final version of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, including the drafting of the controversial privacy provisions. The odds on a LaFalce chairmanship are 5-to-4.

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