WASHINGTON -- The Clinton Administration is considering two options for giving the Federal Housing Finance Board a quorum, and the action is likely by the end of the year.

Nicolas P. Retsinas, who is running the Federal Housing Finance Board and represents the Department of Housing and Urban Development on it, said last week that one possibility is simply appointing new members.

The other, he said, is changing the law to lower the requirement for a quorum to two members.

The board, which regulates the Federal Home Loan Bank system, can carry out its day-to-day functions without a quorum until the end of the year, Mr. Retsinas said. "We can still pay the electric bill - that is why the lights are still on."

By next year, the Finance Board will need a quorum if it is to approve the individual Home Loan banks' new community and public interest board members and if it is to approve the Office of Finance's budget.

The Office of Finance raises cash on behalf of the district banks by selling bonds on Wall Street.

The next milestone is, "the preparation of a legislative initiative," Mr. Retsinas said. That bill would incorporate some of the changes to the system recommended in the various government and industry studies of the system completed over the last year.

"This is a system that is evolving," Mr. Retsinas said.

'A Housing System'

The other board member, Lawrence Costiglio, said, "I call it a housing system rather than a bank system." He favors a quorum of two board members.

Although the Administration wants the Finance Board to have a quorum, Mr. Retsinas said, "We support and only support" legislation that overhauls the system.

Amendments to the Community Development Banking bill would make small changes in the system, which the Administration opposes.

"We don't want any bill related to the Federal Home Loan Bank system unless it is comprehensive legislation," Mr. Retsinas said.

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