The Clinton administration's nominee to head the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. sailed through her Senate Banking Committee confirmation hearing Wednesday and appears likely to gain the panel's support next week.

Committee Chairman Alfonse M. D'Amato, R-N.Y., said the panel expects to vote on attorney Donna Tanoue's nomination April 29 or 30. If approved, as expected, the nomination would be referred to the full Senate. A vote there is expected in early May.

During the hearing, Ms. Tanoue said the case for reforming the deposit insurance system was "very compelling." She declined to detail the type of changes she wants, but said any plan should not increase the risk to the taxpayers from the deposit insurance fund.

She also said the agency, if it makes changes, must act while the economy is strong. "It would be a mistake not to take advantage of the good economic times to prepare the FDIC for the future," she said.

Ms. Tanoue also expressed concern about lax credit standards, but said the recent focus on risk management would help prevent a repeat of the 1980s banking crisis.

She said she would focus on the year-2000 computer problem, but she sidestepped a question from Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colo., about how the FDIC might prepare for the next economic downturn. However, Ms. Tanoue did point to the Asian economic crisis "as a further reminder of the need for a strong and credible bank supervisory system."

For the most part, Ms. Tanoue offered carefully thin responses and was spared tough follow-up questions.

The former commissioner of Hawaii's financial institutions, Ms. Tanoue has been a partner at Honolulu's Goodsill, Anderson, Quinn & Stifel since 1987. She focuses on banking issues, real estate finance, and governmental affairs.

It appears Ms. Tanoue will avoid the lengthy and rancorous confirmation process that her predecessor, Ricki Helfer, endured in 1993 and 1994, when the Senate almost rejected her.

Ms. Tanoue would be the third Democrat on the five-member FDIC board, which includes the director of the Office of Thrift Supervision, the comptroller of the currency, and the FDIC director and vice chairman.

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.