Rep. James P. Moran Jr. (D-Va.) spent last fall beating up on the House banking committee. Campaigning against a senior committee member, Moran quipped that the committee's only role in Northern Virginia was attracting special-interest contributions for his opponent.

Last month, however, in one of his first acts as a House member, Moran joined the banking committee. And last week, when Moran sponsored his first Capitol Hill fund-raiser, the banks came calling. His early donors include political action committees affiliated with the American Bankers Association, the Association of Bank Holding Companies, Sovran Bank and Crestar Bank.

Critics are accusing Moran of hypocrisy. Moran "established his own standard," said Mark Strand, a former aide to the incumbent Moran defeated, Republican Stan Parris. "He is not living up to that standard."

Moran sees no inconsistency and says he's out to clean up a financial industry mess Parris helped create. "I'm not going to get as many contributions as Stan Parris did because I'm going to be much more consumer-oriented," Moran said. "I'm more likely to support reform measures."

In either case, Moran's situation illustrates one of the unassailable tenets of congressional life: The quest for campaign cash touches almost everything and never really ends.

Only weeks after his swearing-in, fund-raising is high on Moran's agenda. Although he has collected about $900,000 to pay for his 1990 campaign -- apparently the most money raised by a House challenger last year -- Moran remains about $45,000 in debt. And his aides already are planning a $1.2 million reelection bid.

In a familiar Washington pattern, Moran's financial concerns are quickly intertwining with his legislative duties.

Moran successfully sought seats on two House committees -- Banking, Finance and Urban Affairs, and Post Office and Civil Service -- and will spend much of his time concentrating on issues before them. Unsurprisingly, businesses and organizations whose finances are influenced by those committees are among Moran's first contributors.

Moran's banking donations total about $5,000 so far, but are particularly sensitive. Moran strongly criticized finance-related gifts to Parris, at one point releasing a list that detailed years of industry contributions to Parris.

Although Moran says he plans to differ markedly from Parris on banking issues, he acknowledges that the process of raising campaign funds makes him uneasy.

"It's a very strenuous, painful thing for anyone to have to do," Moran said. "I don't think it's necessarily demeaning, but it's awkward. As an incumbent congressman, it's even more awkward.

"I support campaign-finance reform. {But} like everyone, you do what you have to do."

Although campaign money is important to all members of Congress, Moran needs it more than most. Several factors have created a strong chance that his 1992 race will be difficult and expensive.

First, he may be targeted for defeat by national GOP strategists. Freshman lawmakers traditionally are considered vulnerable and the number of Republican votes cast in Moran's district tends to be higher in presidential election years. Both Strand and U.S. Attorney Henry E. Hudson have been mentioned as possible opponents.

Second, because Virginia is adding a congressional seat, the shape of Moran's district could change markedly for the next election.

Third, Moran probably will need hundreds of thousands of dollars for television commercials, a crucial campaign tool that is particularly expensive in major metropolitan areas.

All those things mattered only indirectly at last week's fund-raiser, because Moran is still paying bills from last year. Over cocktails and hors d'oeuvres at the National Democratic Club, he collected about $37,000.

But Moran's fund-raising pace will not slow when the debt is retired. "I would like to see us enter into, say, April of next year with $300,000 to $500,000" in the bank, said Mame Reiley, Moran's top aide. "That would show we have strength and might make some opponents think twice about running against us."

If congressional history is any guide, a sizable share of Moran's contributions will come from groups that want something from the committees on which he serves. And the banks are not alone in approaching Moran early.

On the Post Office and Civil Service Committee, for example, Moran will oversee the pay and benefits of federal workers. Few subjects are more important in his district, and he promised throughout his campaign to seek a spot on that committee.

That promise was not lost on either Moran or unions and other groups that represent federal workers. One of Moran's main fund-raisers was Diane Gould, whose husband, George, is chief lobbyist for the National Association of Letter Carriers and an influential voice among organized labor PACs. Nine federal workers' PACs contributed a total of $23,400 to Moran's 1990 campaign. Moran already has hired Diane Gould for his 1992 fund-raising staff.

The banking committee, long a powerful magnet for campaign contributions, promises to be an especially rich lode for the next two years. Last week, the Bush administration made public a far-reaching plan to overhaul the nation's banking system. The proposal would affect virtually every segment of the finance industry.

Moran said that industry contributions will not change his banking committee votes and that his primary goal is balancing the needs of consumers with deregulation proposals. But industry donations will be accepted.

"A congressman, once elected, shouldn't have to spend the next two years raising money," he said. "But that's what happens. That's what everybody does up here."