BANKING & FINANCE
House Approves Two Banking Bills: One of the bills repeals decades-old restrictions on interstate banking and the other encourages lending in distressed communities. The interstate measure, approved on a voice vote, dismantles legal barriers dating to the 1920s and is expected to accelerate the already-rapid pace of consolidation in the industry. The second bill, passed 410 to 12, is a watered-down version of one proposed by President Clinton in his 1992 election campaign. It authorizes spending $382 million over four years to encourage lending in inner cities, poor rural areas and Native American reservations. Approval by the Senate, expected within the next two weeks, would send the bills to Clinton, who is expected to sign both.