Banking Regulation, ‘Lunatic’ Games and Phases of the Moon

Who says Congress can’t agree on financial legislation?

Before calling it a week today, House lawmakers approved a bill that removes references to “lunatics” from federal banking law.

The bill introduced by Senator Kent Conrad, a North Dakota Democrat and chairman of the Budget Committee, cleared the Senate in May and passed today in the House. Called the “21st Century Language Act of 2012,” it’s meant to strip outdated references to the mentally ill in a 1962 law.

The law, which grants trust powers to banks, says the regulator of national banks has the power to let institutions be trustees, executors or represent “estates of lunatics.”

According to Merriam-Webster, this synonym for madness — and its Latin root-word, luna — was tied to the belief that sanity could be affected by phases of the moon. (It’s a waning gibbous today, for those keeping score.)

When talking about Capitol Hill’s other current financial effort, some haven’t been so shy in their use of the word. In a joint CNN.com op-ed in July, Charles Konigsberg, former assistant budget director in the Clinton White House, and G. William Hoagland, a ex-Republican Senate budget aide, wrote that playing political games with the fiscal cliff is a “lunatic strategy.”

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