WASHINGTON - House Majority Leader Richard K. Armey said that the House plans to vote by Friday on legislation that would ease limits on retirement savings plans and create tax breaks for corporations that invest in some poor inner-city and rural communities.

The bill would move to the Senate for a vote immediately after a House vote.

The provisions, sought by banking industry officials, are two core components of a tax package that will be among the final bills the House votes on this year, Rep. Armey told reporters midday Wednesday. Congress is expected to adjourn by Friday or Saturday.

Some lobbyists are urging lawmakers to tack on a measure that would let banks pay interest on business checking accounts by as early as 2002. Though negotiators have left it out of drafts so far, Rep. Armey vowed to work to include the measure in the final package.

House Banking Committee leaders are urging the Senate to quickly consider a package of banking-related legislation and a noncontroversial aspect of the bankruptcy reform bill before Congress closes down for the year. The House adopted the two bills Tuesday evening.

The intent of the "netting" bill - which is part of the bankruptcy reform package that the Senate may vote on but President Clinton has vowed to veto - is to prevent a financially harmful domino effect when companies holding a large number of derivatives contracts go bankrupt.

Currently, insolvent companies can collect what they are owed, but are delayed by usually drawn-out bankruptcy proceedings from paying their debts. The legislation would keep the contracts from being frozen in bankruptcy proceedings and allow the counterparties to reconcile, or "net" out, their obligations on paper and reduce the solvent parties' losses.

Prospects looked dim Wednesday that the Senate would vote on a stand-alone netting bill this year.

The other banking bills approved Tuesday by the House included 20 regulatory relief provisions, banking regulatory agency report renewals, and some mortgage lending-related measures.

The package is now in the Senate, but time is against it. "When you send a bill over here two days before adjournment, you kind of figure it's not going to make it," said Senate Banking Committee Chairman Phil Gramm, R-Tex.


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