Some may criticize his soft-spoken style, but House Banking Committee Chairman Jim Leach wins the award for quiet persistence. After decades of failed attempts to repeal Glass-Steagall restrictions on financial services, Congress passed a financial reform bill last fall, and President Clinton signed it into law in November.
Rep. Leach, R-Iowa, had long been a proponent of such legislation and introduced his initial bill when he took the committee's reins in 1995. But until November, his efforts often seemed fruitless. The darkest hour may have been in late 1998 when Sen. Phil Gramm, R-Tex., single-handedly stalled the legislation and soon afterward became chairman of the Senate Banking Committee. Lobbyists feared Sen. Gramm would stop any attempt to revive the bill.
But the Iowa Republican trudged on. Though Sen. Gramm won many changes on community reinvestment and other provisions, it was Rep. Leach's cooperation with Democrats and the White House that provided the formula for success and stood in stark contrast to partisan bickering in the Senate.
In the end, Rep. Leach argues, the new law is not that different from his original version.