Treasury Secretary Lawrence H. Summers on Friday strongly defended the Community Reinvestment Act, dispelling questions about whether he might be softer than his predecessor on the issues stalling financial reform legislation.

Speaking at a Congressional Black Caucus forum on banking, Mr. Summers said the "next frontier" of civil rights policy is promoting economic opportunity for all Americans. He underscored his point by modifying an adage popularized by First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton.

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