With financial reform and credit union legislation out of the way, House Banking Committee Chairman Jim Leach said, the committee's focus will shift to privacy, money laundering, and interest payments on reserves.
Banking industry lobbyists also predict the committee will hold more hearings on bank megamergers, the impact of international financial crises, the year-2000 computer problem, and a controversial administration proposal to raise FHA loan limits.
But though these issues will get attention, House Banking is not expected to approve any more significant banking legislation in 1998.
That is primarily because only 13 working weeks remain in this session. Congress will recess for part of July and nearly all of August and then adjourn in early October. "There is almost no time left," said Edward L. Yingling, chief lobbyist for the American Bankers Association.
A summer of hearings and no major legislative action may well suit the banking industry, which is still licking its wounds over serious losses this spring.
The House approved sweeping financial services reform legislation by a single vote in May and voted 411-8 in April for a bill easing credit union membership rules.
"In the financial history books, this will be the year the credit union lobby beat the socks off the banking lobby," said Kenneth A. Guenther, executive vice president of the Independent Bankers Association of America.
Rep. Leach has scheduled a June 4 vote on a bill that would create a commission to examine the distribution of recently uncovered assets belonging to Holocaust victims. And he introduced in late May legislation that would direct the government to report periodically to Congress on the country's readiness for the looming year-2000 computer snafu.
Also, the committee will have to work with the Senate this summer to resolve conflicting versions of bills governing credit unions and forcing lenders to automatically cancel private mortgage insurance.
Rep. Marge Roukema, R-N.J., has scheduled a June 24 financial institutions subcommittee hearing on a proposal by Rep. Jack Metcalf, R- Wash., to let banks pay interest on business checking accounts and authorize the Federal Reserve Board to pay interest on bank reserves.
Rep. Leach would not say whether the committee expects to pass such legislation by yearend. "We at least want to have hearings," the Iowa Republican said.
America's Community Bankers is pushing the bill, and president Paul A. Schosberg said it has a "fifty-fifty" chance of passage.
Mr. Yingling, however, responded that the Metcalf proposal is too controversial in Congress and among bankers. The ABA favors a compromise plan that would let banks sweep funds from business checking accounts into interest-bearing accounts overnight and permit 24 monthly withdrawals.
House Banking also plans to hold hearings in June on how well banks guard customer data. Press reports that people are fraudulently obtaining bank records and selling the information through classified ads has caught the attention of lawmakers. A June hearing is also planned on the recent indictment of 26 Mexican bank officials by U.S. law enforcement officials.
Meanwhile, bank lobbyists are keeping an eye on the Senate. The Senate Banking Committee is expected to vote on a regulatory relief bill in June and hold a hearing June 17 on the House financial reform legislation. The Senate will vote this summer on the credit union bill.
Industry lobbyists said they will be on guard to make sure the House financial reform bill or other unpopular items will not be attached to any unrelated Senate legislation.
"At the end of a session, all kinds of games are played," Mr. Yingling said. "You have to be wary of all the possibilities."