Republican congressional leaders this week considered - but ultimately rejected - including the thrift insurance fund rescue in legislation scheduled for a vote Friday.
House Speaker Newt Gingrich eyed the Savings Association Insurance Fund rescue as a way to pay for a $6 billion tax cut for families.
The thrift fund fix, along with a related measure to recapture thrift tax breaks, has been stalled in Congress by the unrelated fight over balancing the federal budget.
The legislation up for a vote Friday is called the "Continuing Resolution," designed to provide interim funding for the government agencies that have not yet received their fiscal year 1996 appropriations.
Senate Majority Leader Robert Dole squelched the plan because of Democratic opposition to the child tax credit. But banking sources said Rep. Gingrich may try to find another way to fund his tax cut with the thrift fund bailout.
One opportunity may arise in late February when Congress must increase the debt limit to avoid defaulting on government securities.
But other sources Wednesday questioned whether the thrift plan really would offer the savings needed to offset the tax credit if it is included in any nonbudget legislation. Congressional accounting rules may reduce drastically the savings generated if the rescue is pulled from the budget reconciliation process.
"We are doing research to determine how it would be treated under various scenarios," said Edward L. Yingling, chief lobbyist for the American Bankers Association, which opposes the thrift fix.
Though Mr. Yingling said he believes the speaker's plan will be thwarted by this problem, his group continues to keep up its guard.
"This issue is not going away," he said.
The thrift rescue caught Rep. Gingrich's eye after he discovered that the bailout had bipartisan support and offered a noncontroversial way to pay for the family tax credit. He hoped to include the tax credit in the continuing resolution, to placate conservatives who want to pressure the White House further for a balanced-budget bill.
Rep. Gingrich's suggestion caught banking committee members by surprise, some banking lobbyists said. Though House Banking Committee Chairman Jim Leach explored the possibility of attaching the thrift fund bailout to Friday's continuing resolution, he determined there were too many issues outstanding to include the rescue now.
In a letter to House Budget Committee Chairman John Kasich on Tuesday, Rep. Leach cautioned that "a number of nuances" would complicate efforts to include the thrift fund rescue in this week's continuing resolution.
A difficult obstacle would be the banking committee's ongoing efforts to allow banks to receive roughly $500 million in deposit insurance premium rebates they would have been due had the thrift fund fix been enacted before yearend, as expected.
Paul A. Schosberg, president of the thrift trade group America's Community Bankers, said he was disappointed the thrift fund fix won't go before Congress this week.
"We've been looking for any option that might be a realistic way to move this legislation forward," he said. Any vehicle that's legitimate, we encourage."