A major state banking trade group has asked Congress to create a special commission to develop a plan for merging the bank and thrift industries.

At a conference Thursday the powerful New York State Bankers Association approved a proposal and faxed it to all New York lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

The idea is that Congress set up a commission of lawmakers, industry executives, and trade group representatives to devise a common charter.

The panel's recommendations would take effect unless Congress rejected them.

"This is a novel way to solve some problems that Congress has not been able to solve," said Michael P. Smith, executive vice president of the New York trade association.

Congress created a commission with similar power to come up with plans for closing military bases.

If Congress rejected the banking commission's plan, the New York group said, the thrift fund should not be merged with the Bank Insurance Fund - and banks should not be required to contribute to interest payments on Financing Corp. bonds.

Pending legislation to rescue the thrift fund would require banks to pay 75% of the annual interest on Fico bonds, or $600 million a year for 23 years.

The New York bankers' proposal, in effect, would tie their support of that idea to a merger of the charters.

The American Bankers Association opposes the legislation and advocates such a tie.

Lawmakers have said a bill merging the bank and thrift charters and insurance funds would be brought up only after the rescue was enacted.

Donald G. Ogilvie, ABA's executive vice president, supported the concept of a commission to hammer out charter merger issues.

"We have always urged Congress to come to a comprehensive solution," Mr. Ogilvie said. "Getting a group of wise people together to take a good, hard look at this sounds like a good idea."

"Nobody is going to be happy at the end of the day," added William J. Bosies Jr., the New York group's vice president of legislation and regulation. "But if Congress can set this up, maybe the commission can come up with a framework that is at least acceptable to both sides."

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