WASHINGTON - The nomination of Richard C. Houseworth to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. board inched forward Thursday but may end up stalled in election-year politics.
Senate Banking Committee members from both parties praised the Arizona banking superintendent and chairman of the Conference of State Bank Supervisors at his confirmation hearing. The committee plans to vote on his nomination in late May, a spokeswoman said.
But Democrats hinted they might oppose Mr. Houseworth's appointment to the FDIC's five-member board until other White House appointees to financial regulatory posts move ahead too.
Six nominations or renominations are pending, including those of Carol J. Parry and Roger W. Ferguson Jr. to the Federal Reserve Board, and Donna A. Tanoue to continue as FDIC chairman. Observers have said Senate Banking Committee Chairman Phil Gramm is stalling so fellow Republican George W. Bush can put his own people in if he wins the presidency this fall.
During Thursday's hearing, ranking Democrat Paul S. Sarbanes urged Sen. Gramm to schedule a vote soon on Ms. Tanoue, whose term expires in October. The Texas Republican nodded but did not comment.
Observers remain unsure of Mr. Houseworth's chances.
"It's encouraging that there's been a hearing. But there are indications that the nominations of Houseworth, Parry, Tanoue, and Ferguson may be tied together," said Edward L. Yingling, chief lobbyist for the American Bankers Association. "If he were considered independently, he would be confirmed."
Kenneth A. Guenther, executive vice president of the Independent Community Bankers of America, agreed. "I don't see the Houseworth nomination moving forward cleanly," he said. "I think he'll get confirmed if there's a tradeoff, but I don't think it necessarily has to be a tradeoff for a Democrat who's up for confirmation in the financial services area."