WASHINGTON - An agreement among House Banking Committee leaders appears to have cleared the way for a quick floor vote on legislation to provide new funding for failed savings and loans.
The agreement would provide $18.3 billion for the Resolution Trust Corp. and permit the bail-out agency to accept new conservatorships for another 18 months, to March 31, 1995. The agency would cease operations altogether at the end of 1995.
An additional $8 billion would be provided to the Savings Association Insurance Fund, subject to a set of tough certification requirements. The measure would modify requirements pertaining to minority contracting and the sale of minority-owned thrifts.
Key Players Agree
The agreement was reached by banking committee chairman Rep. Henry B. Gonzalez, D-Tex., Rep. Jim Leach, R-Iowa, the panel's ranking Republican, and Rep. Stephen L. Neal, D-N.C., chairman of the financial institutions subcommittee.
In addition, Rep. Richard Baker, R-La., a key player among conservative Republicans, was reported to be in agreement. Republican sources cautioned, however, that GOP lawmakers were still waiting to see the final legislative language.
The panel's Democratic leaders were hopeful Thursday afternoon that the measure could be brought before the House Rules Committee by the end of the day and before the full House by early next week. The Rules Committee is the gatekeeper for the House floor.
However, it was unclear whether that timetable could be met. With the Rosh Hoshana holiday beginning next week, the only days available for floor votes are Monday and Tuesday.
Hope for Backing
One Democratic aide expressed hope that the agreement would solidify support among the 30 or so Republicans whose votes will be necessary to pass the bill. Republicans have generally opposed the bill, which was offered this year by a Democratic president.
By contrast, Democrats are supporting the bill in much larger numbers this year than was the case when it was being pushed by a Republican president. Democratic leaders believe they can count on about 180 votes from their own party members, 28 shy of the 218 needed for an absolute majority.
|Too Late to Turn Back'
Early indications were that the compromise would be accepted by Democrats.
It seems reasonable." said Rep. John J. LaFalce, a New York Democrat who staunchly opposed the RTC throughout the Bush administration. Rep. LaFalce said he would vote for the bill this year, contending that it wouldn't make sense to stop with the job nearly complete.
"We're three-quarters of the way across the lake," he said Thursday. "It's too late to turn back."
For thrifts, the package is still a mixed bag. Although it provides new money for the RTC and permits it to continue handling new cases for another 18 months, it trims the money for the savings association fund from, the $16 billion approved by the House Banking Committee.