Thursday approved the nomination of John D. Hawke Jr. for a full five-year term as comptroller of the currency.
The committee also voted to promote Roger W. Ferguson Jr. to vice chairman of the Federal Reserve Board and confirm former House Banking Committee general counsel Armando Falcon Jr. as the director of the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight.
The full Senate must still vote on the three nominations.
President Clinton in August named Mr. Ferguson, who has been a Fed governor since 1997, to succeed Alice M. Rivlin as vice chairman. Mr. Ferguson has led year-2000 preparedness efforts at the central bank. Before joining the Fed, he was a partner at the management consulting firm McKinsey & Co., where he was an information technology expert.
Mr. Falcon was nominated by the President in January and has been working at the agency as a consultant for the past year.
Mr. Hawke, who is already serving as comptroller under a special, one-year presidential appointment, has seen his nomination sidetracked several times in the past year by political disputes.
President Clinton tapped the former Treasury Department official for the job last year, but the nomination was blocked by Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes and other Democrats over questions about Mr. Hawke's commitment to the Community Reinvestment Act and his role in formulating a controversial plan to electronically deliver federal benefits payments.
Mr. Hawke assumed the job under temporary appointment in December and was renominated for a complete term. But Senate Banking Chairman Phil Gramm refused to take up Mr. Hawke's nomination while investigating whether the Comptroller's Office used examiners to compile a list of pro-CRA bankers for political purposes. Also, Sen. Gramm was believed to be holding Mr. Hawke at bay as a negotiating tactic in financial reform legislation talks. But a Senate Banking report last week cleared Mr. Hawke of any involvement, and Sen. Gramm said he would move ahead.
Still, Rep. Marge Roukema, the chairman of House Banking's financial institutions subcommittee, said this week that she will hold hearings on whether the Comptroller's Office should be separated from the Treasury to keep it politically independent. Consumer advocates sent a letter to Sen. Gramm on Wednesday complaining that the OCC is overriding too many state laws such as statutes requiring lifeline banking and limiting automated teller machine fees. -- Dean Anason