WASHINGTON - Banking issues are expected to get short shrift during the first 100 days of the new Congress, as Republicans attempt to fulfill the promises made in their "Contract with America."

However, there may be one exception to that rule - regulatory relief.

Sen. Thad Cochran, chairman of the Senate Republican Working Group, on Tuesday unveiled legislation that will require all federal agencies to include an "economic impact analysis" in all new regulations issued.

"We hope to re-instill in the regulation process a greater sensitivity and concern to refrain from unnecessarily imposing burdens on the private sector or local and state subdivisions," the Mississippi Republican said.

The provision was added by Sen. Don Nickles, R-Okla., to a bill that would prevent Congress from passing unfunded mandates. The bill will be one of the first measures addressed by the Senate, said Sen. Cochran, a co- chairman of the working group.

"If it's a cost-benefit analysis, then it's something that has been needed in many regulatory areas," said James McLaughlin, director of agency relations for the American Bankers Association.

"It is certainly an important part of looking at reg burden," he added.

House Republican lawmakers on Tuesday also described a resolution to be introduced today containing the new House rules for the 104th Congress.

The bill includes, among a multitude of other changes, the transfer of jurisdiction for Glass-Steagall reform legislation from the House Commerce Committee to the House Banking Committee.

"What you will see tomorrow will be a down payment on the Contract with America," said Rep. C. Christopher Cox, R-Calif, who chairs the Republican Policy Committee.

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