A tense showdown on the thrift charter is expected in the House Banking Committee this week. Lawmakers are caught between the banking industry's demands for stiff limits on unitary thrift holding companies and the thrift industry's insistence that any restrictions would be anti-competitive.

"One helluva fight is under way" behind the scenes, said Kenneth A. Guenther, executive vice president of the Independent Bankers Association of America. "It is emerging as the major issue before the committee."

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