House Speaker Newt Gingrich was still basking in the glow of his campaign-style swing through New Hampshire on the weekend of June 10 when he got down to the business of crafting banking legislation.
A day after debating President Clinton in the Granite State, the Speaker met last Monday afternoon with Majority Leader Richard Armey and the chairmen of three relevant panels - banking, commerce, and rules.
Someone present at the discussion said the Speaker first made clear that he planned to defer to House Banking Committee Chairman Jim Leach, R-Iowa, on banking issues. But he also made clear that he knew something about banking legislation and was prepared to set down one imperative.
"He said, 'I do know that on banking bills you have to take care of the Independent Insurance Agents,'" this source said.
That's bad news for most bankers, who are violently opposed to the kind of restrictions the Independent Insurance Agents of America would like to impose on their institutions. And the results of the Speaker's dictum came quickly: House leaders announced plans last Tuesday to bar new insurance powers for national banks.
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A photographer sans press credentials was snapping pictures during a House Banking financial institutions subcommittee vote last week, but no one seemed to mind.
Capitol police didn't object to the tagless shutterbug because he was none other than Rep. Sonny Bono, R-Calif. The freshman lawmaker, who clicked a candid shot of subcommittee Chairwoman Marge Roukema, R-N.J., during deliberations on regulatory relief legislation last Wednesday, said he was putting together a book.
"I'm taking pictures of all the members of Congress, and I'm assembling a book from them," Rep. Bono said. "I want people to be able to get a feel of Congress from our point of view, but I want to get members when they aren't posing - they're always posing."
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With restrictions on bank insurance powers clinging to regulatory relief legislation, Assistant Treasury Secretary Richard S. Carnell said the bill is bound to cause a serious banking industry bellyache.
"It's looking less like a rich banquet than a case of botulism," Mr. Carnell said last week during the financial institutions subcommittee's deliberations on the measure.
The Clinton administration also opposes the bill.