As newly elected and reelected members of the House were being sworn in on the chamber floor, new and old House Banking Committee members milled about the adjacent Speaker's Lobby.

Rep. Henry B. Gonzalez, the ranking minority member on the House Banking Committee, sat in a quiet corner and opened his "starter kit," which contained his new member pin and 104th Congress license plate.

"I don't use them," said the Texas Democrat as he unwrapped the gleaming red and white plate. "I just hang them on the wall - sort of as souvenirs."

Rep. Sonny Bono, a Banking Committee freshman and a former half of the singing duo Sonny and Cher, likened Congressional life to being on stage.

"This business is much like show business," he said. "You're in the people business, the power business, the ego business. You can easily start to believe in your own publicity."

When asked about his plan of attack as a member of House Banking, he preferred instead to talk about what he hopes to accomplish sitting on the House Judiciary Committee. Regarding banking issues, he would say only, "The problem with banking is basically regulations."

Most bankers would refer to that as a good start.

* * *

Briget M. Polichene, the House Banking Committee's general counsel since 1992, is leaving Washington for the Hoosier state at the end of January.

Ms. Polichene will become chief counsel at the Indiana Department of Insurance, a political appointment in Gov. Evan Bayh's administration.

Her husband, Charles M. Chamness, director of public affairs at the Federal Housing Finance Board, plans to continue working here for a few months to tie up loose ends, like selling their Capitol Hill home.

The couple's move to Indianapolis is a move closer to home for Mr. Chamness, who grew up in Bloomington.

* * *

Sen. Connie Mack, R-Fla., said things are looking up in the fight against regulatory burden. "I would hope people are beginning to realize the banking industry has an important role to play in America's future," he said.

On a more practical level, he added, "One of my greatest supporters is now on our side."

Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, who cosponsored a regulatory relief bill with Sen. Mack last year, changed his party affiliation to Republican after the November election.

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Perhaps partisan squabbles on the House Banking Committee will be a bit tamer in this Congress when some Republicans realize that the minority may just be armed.

Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D-N.Y., pleaded no contest on Thursday to a charge of carrying a loaded handgun in his baggage at Washington National Airport on Dec. 1 last year.

"The handgun was inadvertently in a piece of luggage I took from my upstate New York home when I drove back to Washington for the late-November congressional session, and it was still in that piece of unopened luggage on Dec. 1 when I decided to fly back to New York," said Rep. Hinchey.

"I was completely surprised when it showed up on the X-ray machine at the airport," he added.

David Lenefsky, Rep. Hinchey's lawyer, said that his client has a license to carry the weapon in New York, but not in Virginia.

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The Federal Reserve Bank of New York was busy adding and promoting employees during the first working day of the new year. It added two new senior vice presidents on Jan. 3. Michele S. Godfrey becomes the liaison between foreign central banks and the Fed, and Betsy Buttrill White remains head of market surveillance.

The New York Fed also promoted seven employees to vice president. They are: Robert J. Ambrose as assistant general auditor, Daniel G. Bolwell in the wholesale product office, Dino Kos at the foreign exchange trading desk, Sandra C. Krieger on the domestic trading desk, Monika K. Novik in the systems development area, Janet K. Rogers in the loans and credits department; and Robert C. Scrivani in human resources.

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