Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Iím glad that we are focusing our attention today on the issue of deposit insurance reform.
Let me begin my remarks by commending the leadership of Senators Johnson and Hagel. They have done excellent work, putting together a reform proposal. Their bill, the Safe and Fair Deposit Insurance Act, is a solid and reasoned approach.
I am proud to be a co-sponsor of this bill. In all, there are already 7 members of this Committee on the bill. I know of few other proposals before our Committee that have garnered such strong bipartisan co-sponsorship. That, I believe, is a true testament to the strength of the Johnson-Hagel initiative and a reflection of their collaborative efforts.
It was just about a year ago that then-FDIC Chairwoman Donna Tanoue argued to Congress that the time to address flaws in the system is now Ė while the industry is strong and the overwhelming majority of institutions remain healthy. I agree with her and I hope that we can move a bill forward.
While there are several issues about which there is disagreement, the need for reform, as outlined in the FDICís April 2001 report, is clear. I hope we will work together to resolve the outstanding differences people have regarding reform.
Questions about the $100,000 coverage level, indexation, municipal coverage, accounting for loan loss reserves, and so-called free riders are just a few of the issues to which the answers are not simple.
And, indeed, we, as policymakers, may disagree about what is the best solution to some of the questions reform of the deposit insurance system raises. At the end of the process, however, I believe that we can pass a solid bill that is an improvement over the status quo.
We all know that last week the House Financial Services Committee overwhelmingly reported out a bill very similar to the Johnson-Hagel bill. Indeed, the vote was 52 to 2. With such broad support in Committees of jurisdiction in both houses, I believe momentum is growing.
I thank the Chairman for calling todayís hearing. I welcome our witnesses before us. And, I look forward to working closely with my colleagues to move a reform bill.