Opponents of legislation that would wipe out all state limits on interest charges plan to try to force a vote on the measure this week in an effort to kill it.
The bill to pre-empt state usury laws "would legalize loansharking," complains Rep. Frank Annunzio (D-Ill.), chairman of a House banking subcommittee that will hold hearings on it Tuesday and Wednesday.
Annunzio said some Arizona used-car buyers have been forced to pay 50 percent interest on loans since that state eliminated its ceiling on interest charges last year.
"Those are the kind of rates we will see nationwide if we do away with usury ceilings, a course recommmended by the Reagan Administration," he said.
A ban on state interest rate regulation is expected to be included in the financial institutions deregulation package the administration will present to Congress later this month.
The same thing would be accomplished by a bill already introduced by Rep. John J. LaFalce (D-N.Y.) on which Annunzio's consumer affairs and coinage panel plans hearings this week.
In addition to deregulatory fervor, opponents of interest rate ceilings argue that limits on rates make it more difficult for consumers to get loans. Rather than make loans at low rates, lenders won't make them at all, they say.
Annunzio said he will try to force "a referendum on interest rates" and stop the measures before the bank deregulation bill comes up.
Congress last year lifted state ceilings on home mortgage rates in an effort to make more mortgage money available. "The law has not brought about any increase in the supply of mortgage money," Annunzio charged.
Representatives of consumer groups opposed to eliminating usury ceilings have been called to testify on Tuesday. Supporters of the measure, led by LaFalce, will argue their point on Wednesday.