WASHINGTON - A key subcommittee chairwoman is urging the House leadership to schedule votes on regulatory relief and Glass-Steagall legislation as soon as lawmakers return from the August recess.
Rep. Marge Roukema, head of the House Banking subcommittee on financial institutions, also asked House Speaker Newt Gingrich to link two controversial insurance provisions for an "all or nothing" vote on the House floor.
By using this method, proposed last month by House Banking Committee Chairman Jim Leach, "members will not be forced to choose between onflict ing industry viewpoints," the New Jersey Republican wrote.
While Ms. Roukema's letter adds some pressure for early action on the two measures, industry lobbyists said the leadership is unlikely to call up banking bills during the hectic fall legislative season.
Banking bills simply are not at the top of House leaders' priority list, said Edward L. Yingling, chief lobbyist for the American Bankers Association.
"We all look at this stuff and think it is the most important legislation there is, but the leadership has a lot of other things to focus on ... like the budget process," Mr. Yingling said.
Lawmakers return Sept. 6, and are expected to spend the entire month looking for spending cuts needed to meet budget targets.
Glass-Steagall and regulatory relief have both been stalled by the two controversial insurance provisions, which have pitted big banks against insurance agents, community banks, and other small business groups.
"In spite of a great deal of rhetoric clouding the issue, all the interested industry groups - insurance agents, banks, and securities firms - gain something in the 'all or nothing' approach," Rep. Roukema said.
The first provision would restrict the Comptroller of the Currency's from expanding national banks' insurance powers, a top priority for insurance agents.
Big banks aren't happy about this measure, but a second amendment that would allow banks and insurance companies to affiliate in most states has the support of both the ABA and Securities Industry Association.
Congress shouldn't let warring industry factions stand in the way of major financial services reform, Rep. Roukema wrote. Standing up to interest groups would be "an accomplishment the Democrats repeatedly proved that they were incapable of when they controlled the House," Rep. Roukema said.