WASHINGTON -- House lawmakers failed to craft a bill to fund the thrift cleanup before their August recess, so taxpayers must continue to pay about $3 million a day to cover the cost of operating defunct thrifts.

So far, House members have tried for eight weeks to cobble a bill to bring to the House floor that would give the White House money to finish the savings and loan bailout, which ultimately could cost taxpayers as much as $190 billion.

The Senate voted in May to provide up to $34.3 billion in funds. Negotiators had hoped to conclude a deal Friday, before their scheduled monthlong recess. But bickering over how much more money to pay for closing failed S&Ls has sunk efforts for now.

78 Defunct Thrifts

The money is needed so the Resolution Trust Corp. can sell the remaining failed thrifts it controls. The approximately $3 million daily price tag for taxpayers is the agency's cost of keeping open 78 defunct S&Ls, based on government estimates.

The RTC has been broke since April 1992. Recently, federal auditors said the RTC could free up to $5 billion in reserves, allowing it to proceed with the sale of 23 failed S&Ls.

House negotiators had had hopes of striking a deal providing $18.3 billion for the RTC.

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