The Senate Banking Committee will hold a hearing Wednesday on the nomination of John D. Hawke Jr. as comptroller of the currency.
The committee will vote at an unspecified date on whether to approve Mr. Hawke's nomination, a Senate Banking spokesman said. President Clinton tapped Mr. Hawke, the Treasury Department's under secretary for domestic finance, in July to be the top regulator of national banks.
Sources on Capitol Hill and in the banking industry say they expect him to be approved because he has the support of committee chairman Alfonse M. D'Amato and is very popular among bankers.
But Mr. Hawke could encounter opposition from some Republican members of the panel who are upset at the Clinton administration's stance on several banking bills this year.
Sen. Richard C. Shelby plans to grill Mr. Hawke over the administration's repeated threats to veto any legislation that included rollbacks of the Community Reinvestment Act. The Alabama Republican tried and failed this summer to exempt small banks from CRA, and he failed to remove all references to CRA from the financial reform bill last week.
"Sen. Shelby is deeply troubled by Mr. Hawke's previously stated views on the Community Reinvestment Act," his spokesman said. "The senator intends to ask a number of questions regarding Mr. Hawke's current position on the CRA, but he will not make a decision about Mr. Hawke's nomination until he has a chance to question him."
Observers predicted Sen. Shelby and some other critics may complain but not block the appointment.
"I think these senators, who are responsive to industry concerns, would reflect the industry's desire to have a confirmed comptroller in place," said Karen Shaw Petrou, president of the ISD/Shaw Inc. consulting firm here.
A greater threat to confirmation is the limited time left in this year's session, said Kenneth A. Guenther, executive vice president of the Independent Bankers Association of America. He predicted "an overwhelmingly favorable vote" by the committee but said the full Senate could be sidetracked by spending bills or political squabbles over other nominees. In that case, a temporary appointment by the president is expected.
Mr. Hawke was unavailable for an interview Thursday. If confirmed, he would replace acting Comptroller Julie L. Williams, who succeeded Eugene A. Ludwig, whose five-year term expired in April.