House Banking Committee Chairman Jim Leach is turning up the heat on the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which has refused to shelve its plan to regulate over-the-counter derivatives.

The Iowa Republican has drafted a statement in which he agrees not to seek legislation rescinding the Futures Commission's jurisdiction over these derivatives if the agency agrees not to impose new regulations. He urged agency Chairwoman Brooksley Born to sign the statement, which the Federal Reserve Board and Securities and Exchange Commission have endorsed.

"If the CFTC cannot accept this joint statement approach, it will be my intention to hold hearings after the Independence Day recess," Rep. Leach wrote in a June 24 letter.

Sixteen House Republicans sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott last week urging him to bring the credit union membership bill to the floor.

"We must remember that every day consideration is delayed, another 1,000 Americans who want to join a credit union are turned away," the lawmakers wrote. "And unless this bill is passed, 62 million consumers will be denied banking services forever."

Congressmen signing the letter included Reps. Gerald B.H. Solomon, N.Y., Steven C. LaTourette, Ohio, Jack Quinn, N.Y., and Bob Livingston, La.

The confusing twists and turns of the financial reform debate left Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes scratching his head last week.

After consumer advocates lambasted the controversial reform bill, the Senate Banking Committee's ranking Democrat remarked on the surprising alliance-"perhaps an unholy one," he said-between consumer groups and the banking industry against the bill.

"What are we to make of it?" the Maryland lawmaker asked half-jokingly during a hearing.

An anti-Citigroup alliance appears to be forming between the Independent Bankers Association of America and the Bronx, N.Y.-based activist group Inner City Press/Community on the Move.

Both are opposed to the merger of Citicorp and Travelers Group, presented nearly identical legal challenges to the deal at last week's Federal Reserve Bank of New York hearing, and are prepared to go to court to block the transaction.

An alliance could benefit both groups. The courts have ruled previously that Inner City Press lacks the legal right to challenge bank mergers because it is not harmed by deals. Standing is not an issue for the IBAA, however, because it represents competing banks.

The IBAA could get free legal work and benefit from Inner City Press' experience in filing challenges to most of the recent big bank mergers.

Matthew Lee, Inner City Press' executive director, said he is interested in working with the bank group, but Kenneth A. Guenther, IBAA's executive vice president, said a decision is premature, although he said an alliance is possible.

Rep. John J. LaFalce knocked the insurance industry last week for seeking a federal handout in legislation that would widen disaster-relief coverage for homeowners.

The bill would create federal backup insurance for state-managed insurance pools that cover homes wrecked by hurricanes, earthquakes, or other natural disasters.

Rep. LaFalce, House Banking's ranking Democrat, said insurance lobbyists argued vehemently during the financial reform debate last month that states, not Congress, should regulate insurance.

"Yet here we are today considering legislation to provide a major federal financial backstop for the insurance industry with minimal federal controls," the New York Democrat said. "The legislation proposes a federal program that is the insurance equivalent of a new deposit insurance program or a new FHA insurance program."

The committee began voting on the bill Thursday but after considering 10 amendments postponed a final vote until July 15.

Kevin M. Murphy is Minnesota's new chief bank regulator.

This month Mr. Murphy took over as deputy commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Commerce's financial examinations division, filling the position vacant since James G. Miller retired in January.

Mr. Murphy returns to government work after 11 years as a bank consultant. Before that, he worked as a federal bank examiner from 1969 to 1986.

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