WASHINGTON - Opposition on Capitol Hill is mounting to a Securities and Exchange Commission proposal to bar public companies from hiring the same accounting firm for both auditing and consulting.

Ten members of the Senate Banking Committee from both parties, including Sen. Rod Grams, R-Minn., and Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., urged SEC Chairman Arthur Levitt in a letter released Thursday to extend the public comment period until Feb. 1 so the plan can be studied further.

"In light of the magnitude of your proposed changes, and the wide disparity in current opinion concerning their potential impact, we urge caution in arriving at final rules on this subject," the senators wrote in a letter dated July 28. Sen. Grams, chairman of Senate Banking's securities subcommittee, plans a hearing on the matter in September.

The letter echoes a call made last week by Senate Banking Chairman Phil Gramm and second-ranking Republican Richard C. Shelby. Banks are concerned about the proposal, especially community banks, which say that it could raise their costs and that it could be hard to find two different firms in the same town.

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.