WASHINGTON - Senate Democrats are trying to schedule a vote, perhaps as early as today, on Ricki Tigert's nomination to head the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.
The nomination, which remains a longshot, would go to the floor during the final week of this year's congressional session along with a number of other bills important to the banking industry.
Among the measures pending are a "national treatment" bill that would permit retaliation against countries that discriminate against U.S. banks and a measure overhauling the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
Sen. Connie Mack, R-Fla., hopes to use one of the bills as a vehicle for an amendment limiting the right of borrowers to rescind mortgage loans when they are unable to make payments.
In addition, Sen. Bob Graham, D-Fla., was eyeing the national treatment bill as a vehicle for amendments dealing with foreign banks, and Sen. Phil Gramm, R-Tex., was trying to add an amendment dealing with Texas home equity loans.
Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell said Friday he plans to file a cloture petition to head off a threatened Republican filibuster on the Tigert nomination. To succeed, he needs the votes of at least four GOP Senators.
At one point last week, Ms. Tigert's supporters had hopes of packaging her nomination with others important to Senate Republicans. It was not clear Friday whether that strategy would work.
"If we can muster the 60 votes, we can get her through," Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., said Friday. Sen. Dodd said Ms. Tigert has gained some support from Republican Banking Committee members, such as Robert Bennett of Utah.
Even if the Senate imposes cloture, however, Republicans would have 30 hours to debate the nomination, an eternity in the final hours of the session. They could use the time to debate whether Ms. Tigert - a supposed friend of President and Mrs. Clinton - could deal impartially with issues stemming from the Whitewater affair.
Sen. Dodd, though, said the prospect of a Whitewater debate a month before congressional elections would not deter Democrats.
"We really don't feel that Ms. Tigert should be deprived of her nomination because of these allegations," Sen. Dodd said.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act measure was being readied for floor action in the Senate as early as Friday night, although most observers said it would likely be held over until this week.
The bill is supported by consumer organizations and has won grudging support from many financial services companies who believe the measure is about the best they are likely to get from Congress. The Mack amendment, which could be attached to either the fair credit measure or the national treatment bill, is aimed at a Florida case involving a woman who borrowed $102,000 against her house to pay medical bills. When she was unable to make payments, her lawyer notified the lender that she was rescinding the loan because two closing costs were not properly disclosed in the settlement report. Lenders argued that the disclosures were made, although in a separate section.