A banking overhaul bill that the House could vote on as early as today contains one major change from the legislation that congressional leaders, industry and the White House agreed to last Friday after hours of intense negotiating.
The bill now bans the creation of what would have been a new type of bank--a wholesale bank that carries no federal deposit insurance and caters to wealthy, sophisticated individuals and companies.
The White House had wanted the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act, which requires banks to lend in underserved areas, to apply to the new banks. Senate Banking Committee Chairman Phil Gramm (R-Tex.) didn't.
A compromise was struck that would allow a financial holding company to own a wholesale bank only if it didn't already own a federally insured one. No CRA rules would apply to the wholesale bank. The agreement also said that no existing banks--which by law must have deposit insurance--could switch to becoming an uninsured institution.
But the agreement, it turned out, mainly benefited securities firm Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and a few others. That brought protests from competitors Chase Manhattan Corp. and J.P. Morgan & Co., the nation's third- and fourth-largest banks, respectively, according to congressional, industry and White House sources.
Chase Manhattan and J.P. Morgan have been lobbying all week to be allowed to own the wholesale banks, even though they also own federally insured banks, but that would have rekindled the argument between the White House and Gramm over how CRA rules should apply.
Fearing that the dispute would undo the delicately crafted wording of the bill, House and Senate lawmakers this week decided to chuck wholesale banks altogether, deciding there was no time--and possibly no chance--to work out a compromise.
The bill, which would make it easier for banks, brokerages and insurers to merge, could go to the Senate for a final vote next week and then to President Clinton for his signature.