House Banking Committee Chairman Jim Leach predicts an even chance of passage of financial reform legislation this year.

"The Senate is reviewing the issue with great seriousness," the Iowa Republican told the annual summer meeting of the Iowa Independent Bankers at a resort in Okoboji on Saturday. "There is a 50-50 chance of passage of legislation this fall."

The bill, which would permit cross-ownership of banking, securities, and insurance firms, cleared the House by a one-vote margin May 13. The Senate Banking Committee is expected to vote on the bill in September, but full Senate passage before adjournment in early October is considered a long shot by most observers.

Rep. Leach acknowledged that serious hurdles remain, including a turf battle between the Federal Reserve and Treasury Department.

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