Lawmakers sent a novel message last week to nervous banking industry representatives raising concerns about a provision in an appropriations bill that would give state attorneys general the right to examine national banks: Just ignore it, we'll fix it later.Banking lawyers have said the provision is vaguely worded and would let the Federal Trade Commission write mortgage lending rules that would apply to banks and could be enforced by state attorneys general.

Though the measure's sponsor, Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., insists it is aimed only at nonbanks, the industry worked overtime trying to scuttle the provision. Fearful of holding up the budget, however, lawmakers put off making any changes in the provision. Instead, they offered a promise that the measure does not apply to banks.

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