As president of the Western League of Savings Institutions, Lou Nevins represents the heart of the thrift industry. His members hold 25% of that industry's assets and include eight of the 10 largest thrifts in the country. For the past two years, Mr. Nevins and his members have been pushing legislation to capitalize the Savings Association Insurance Fund.

The measure passed Congress as part of a massive budget bill last year, but that legislation was vetoed by President Clinton in December. Regulators and the administration are still backing the fund-fix bill, but House Banking Committee Chairman Jim Leach said last week that odds of its passing this year are slim, largely because the banking industry has mounted a vigorous campaign in opposition.

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