WASHINGTON — Regulators were picked apart Friday by members of two House committees, who blamed them for a dramatic drop in lending and urged them to ease up on bankers.

Top leaders at all four banking and thrift regulatory agencies attempted to defend themselves, arguing that the tightening of credit was not their fault, but rather the natural response to an economic downturn and a drop in demand. Some even suggested that examiners were right to curb lending, particularly by troubled institutions.

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