Is the Banking Bill Now in Effect?

Error in Text Casts Doubt, but Nobody Is Worried

WASHINGTON -- When does the 1991 banking bill take effect? When the President signs it? How about 60 days later?

Either may be correct.

When weary congressional aides were assembling the final language of the bill just after dawn on Nov. 27, a single sentence toward the end of the package went awry.

Instead of making one provision effective 60 days after enactment, the sentence declared the entire law would become effective on that date.

"Someone hit the wrong key," said a congressional staffer.

The House-Senate conference that negotiated the bill met around the clock on the final day of the congressional session, and aides began rushing sections of the bill to the Office of Legislative Counsel starting at 2 a.m.

As other sections were negotiated, they too were shipped over to legislative counsel, and the final package was sent to the floor late in the morning on the 27th, with little time for proofreading.

But legislative aides say that provision can be ignored.

"It's so clearly a typo that there will be no dispute about what was meant," said Jake Lewis, a spokesman for the House Banking Committee.

Other errors from that last day are cropping up, one by one. In the Resolution Trust Corp. bill, for example, the Senate passed the House version in the final hours of the session.

But even as it was being passed, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Donald W. Riegle was urging the administration to ignore a low-income housing measure he said was included in error.

"It's a terrible way to make law," said one financial institutions lobbyist. "But this bill is just fraught with errors. There's clearly going to be a technical corrections bill."

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