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Rep. Ron Paul [R, TX-14], the most popular member of Congress amongst OC users, is in line next session to take control of the Domestic and International Monetary Policy, Trade and Technology subcommittee, oversees the Federal Reserve, among other things. Paul is well known for being critical of the Fed, having recently authored a book titled "End the Fed" and sponsoring legislation session after session designed to accomplish just what the book title suggests. He has inspired a powerful, Tea Party-aligned grassroots movement around his ideas of abolishing the Fed and changing the fundamental structure of the U.S. monetary system. With the Fed right now at the center of efforts to get the economy back up and running, having Paul take over Fed oversight right now could really shake things up.

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UPDATE: The Sanders one-time Fed audit amendment has passed, 96-0. The Vitter amendment to open up the Fed to audits in perpetuity was rejected, 37-62.

Last week, an amendment from Sen. Bernie Sanders [I, VT] to remove a section of U.S. code that protects the Federal Reserve from meaningful audits looked set to pass over objections from Banking Committee Chairman Sen. Chris Dodd [D, CT] and the White House. Then, all of a sudden, to alleviate concerns that it would put President Obama in a sticky situation (there was speculation that he would veto the whole financial reform bill over the amendment), Sanders agreed to change his amendment so that it keeps the special protections in U.S. code in tact, and instead allows the government to conduct a one-time audit of the Fed and what they have done from Dec. 1, 2007 until now, notwithstanding the special protections.

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The Week Ahead in Congress

May 10, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

The Senate gets right back into the thick of things on financial reform today. The debate has been on pause since last Thursday, after managing to dispose of two amendments that were threatening to jeopardize the White House's support and shake up the delicately compromised balance negotiated byBanking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd [D, CT] in the underlying bill. An amendment to bring a new level of transparency to the Federal Reserve was whittled down to a one-time audit, and an amendment to put new size caps and leverage limits on the big banks was voted down aft being rushed to a surprise vote late in the evening.

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After making some major changes late in the day today, Sen. Bernie Sanders' [I, VT] amendment to audit the Federal Reserve has the support of Banking Committee Chairman Sen. Chris Dodd [D, CT] and the White House, both of whom were concerned that opening the Fed up to audits would threaten their independence.

The revised amendment (.pdf) would not amend U.S. law so as to indefinitely open up the Fed to full audits like the original amendment would have. Instead it is focused on making information about the Fed's actions in response to the financial crisis public. It would reveal information about which banks received special deals from the Fed, how much money they got, and when we can expect to get it back. But after that, the Fed would go back to operating under the same level of secrecy they enjoy currently.

Specifically, based on my reading of the legislative text, here's what's in the revised amendment.

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Senate to Vote on Auditing the Fed Today

May 6, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

With most of the non-controversial financial reform amendments out of the way, the Senate today is moving on to one that will divide both parties and is strongly opposed by the White House. The amendment, from Sen. Bernard Sanders [I, VT], would open up the Federal Reserve's monetary policy decisions to a full Government Accountability Office audit for the first time ever.

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White House Opposes Audit the Fed Amendment

April 30, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

The Senate is getting ready to kick its financial reform debate into high gear next week when they start voting on amendments on all kinds of issues form both parties. So far, the Obama Administration has remained quiet on their support or opposition for specific amendments, but with one exception -- they are opposing a bipartisan amendment to open up the Federal Reserve to a full Government Accountability Office Audit.

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What Happened to Auditing the Fed?

April 21, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

One of the great political success stories of the past couple years has been the audit the Fed movement. Starting with an unlikely partnership between the far-right Rep. Ron Paul [R, TX-14] and far-left lawmakers Rep. Alan Grayson [D, FL-8] and Sen. Bernie Sanders [I, VT], the push to open up the Federal Reserve to a complete government audit for the first time ever (H.R.1207) has attracted more than 300 co-sponsors in the House and was included in the House's financial reform bill that was approved last December.

But now that financial reform has moved into the Senate, the audit the Fed proposal has disappeared from the bill and there is virtually no talk of trying to put it back in. Instead, the Senate financial reform bill as written by Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd [D, CT] includes a section that looks deceptively like a Fed audit, but would actually do nothing to open up the Fed or remove the special audit restrictions that have allowed the Fed to operate in secrecy for decades.

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Treasury Dept. Opposes Fed Transparency

March 9, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

You would think the White House would get behind a proposal that is sponsored by a full 3/4ths of the House of Representatives, but they're not.

Ryan Grim of Huffington Post reported today from a briefing with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and a couple Treasury officials that they are "intensely opposed" to the Ron Paul-Alan Grayson bill to require a full audit of the Federal Reserve. The bill has  already passed the House as a part of the broader financial reform package (H.R.4173) and it is immensely popular with the public as well as Members of Congress -- the stand-alone version of it has 317 co-sponsors in the House and 33 sponsors in the Senate. According to sponsorship statistics, it's the most popular bill in Congress right now.

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DeMint's Faux Fed Transparency Bill

January 26, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

Sen. Jim DeMint [R, SC] is one of the 31 co-sponsors of Sen. Bernie Sanders' [I, VT] popular "audit the Fed" bill (S. 604). But he has also introduced his own version of the bill that would maintain the Fed's current level of secrecy under the guise of the "audit the Fed" ethos (S. 2939).

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Real Fed Transparency

August 21, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

Ron Paul's bill to bill to audit the Federal Reserve would make new information about the central bank's activities available to members of Congress. OpenCongress users have suggested a simple improvement to the bill to make the Fed truly transparent.

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