The Senate Banking Committee yesterday approved the gradual lifting of federal interest rate ceilings on savings accounts over a 10- year period. At the same time, it authorized the payment of interest on checking accounts.
The near-unanimous vote came after opponents of linking the controversial issue of phasing out controls with interest on checking failed to separate them. The combined bill, which has the approval of the administration, now goes to the Senate floor.
If it passes the Senate, the bill will meet strong objections from House conferees because their version of the checking-with-interest bill was approved on the floor without consideration of the controls issue. An aide to House Banking subcommittee Chairman Fernand St. Germain (D-R.I.) said yesterday that any conference report containing legislation on Regulation Q -- the authority for interest rate ceilings -- likely would be ruled not germane by the House. That body voted overwhelmingly in favor of checking with interest.
The purpose of the Senate bill is to raise interest rates on savings accounts to a level current market rates. Permissible passbook account interest is 5.25 percent at banks and 5.5 percent at thrift institutions at a time when loan interest rates are at 12 percent. Moreover, they are prohibited from offering market rates -- currently 10 percent and up -- to depositors with less than $10,000.