The chairman of a House Financial Services Committee panel yesterday suggested Congress ought to consider legislation making it easier for investors to sue credit rating agencies for "grossly inaccurate" ratings, as lawmakers sharply criticized the agencies for their failure to accurately rate structured finance products and other securities.

At a hearing on "approaches to improving credit rating agency regulation," Rep. Paul Kanjorski, D-Pa., the chairman of the House Financial Services capital markets subcommittee, said Congress should address the First Amendment defense that the rating agencies rely upon in asserting their ratings opinions are a form of protected speech.

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