The House passed a banking bill yesterday that would replenish funds of the insolvent Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corp., require banks to speed up the availability of funds deposited by check and slow the course of bank deregulation.
The Competitive Equality Banking Act of 1987, passed by a 382-12 vote, would permit FSLIC to sell $10.8 billion in bonds largely to subsidize the takeover of ailing savings and loans by healthier savings institutions or nonfinancial companies.
FSLIC was $6 billion in the red at the end of the last year because of the large number of S&L failures, especially in economically depressed areas such as the Southwest.
The bill would require banks to make funds available to depositors on local checks after two intervening business days starting in September 1988, and after one intervening business day starting in 1990. Banks would be able to hold funds on out-of-town checks for a maximum of six intervening business days starting September 1988 and four intervening business days in 1990.
The Senate still must act on the legislation before it is sent to President Reagan.
"Clearly the consumer needs a break from the use of their hard-earned funds by banks playing the float game," said Rep. Fernand J. St Germain (D-R.I.), the chairman of the House Banking Committee, during floor debate.
The bill also would prohibit future creation of limited-service institutions, or so-called nonbank banks -- one of the primary vehicles used by the Reagan administration to deregulate banking, allowing nonfinancial companies such as Sears and J.C. Penney to enter banking.
One of the more controversial provisions of the bill would allow nonfinancial companies, including securities concerns previously prohibited from entering regulated banking, to purchase ailing savings and loans with assets greater than $500 million.
Securities firms have been able to and can continue to own limited-service banks, which are not subject to federal banking regulations.
At the same time, the bill would place a moratorium until March 1987 on bank expansion into the securities, real estate development and insurance underwriting fields, a fact that has led some critics to call the legislation unfair.
The bill would direct federal regulators to restrain from closing down or selling off some insolvent savings and loans in economically depressed areas of the country until they have an opportunity to work themselves out of their problems.
Reagan has announced that he would sign the legislation after Treasury Secretary James A. Baker III worked out a last-minute compromise with congressional banking committee leaders.
Nevertheless, the bill is considered a defeat for the administration's deregulatory policies.