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The graphic at right shows, in aggregate, the explosion of the Federal Reserve's balance sheet during the financial crisis. Today, thanks to the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill (exact provision here), we get to begin learning which companies benefitted from these subsidies, how much they got, when they got it, and what the Fed got/is expected to get in return. The law also asks for "the specific rationale for each such facility or program." Click through for links to dig in yourself or to find the best breaking analysis. 

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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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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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Sen. Bernie Sanders [I, VT] yesterday forced a vote on an amendment on breaking up the big banks in the Budget Committee mark-up of the 2011 budget resolution. The amendment didn't pass, but it came closer than I think even Sanders expected. It was rejected on a 12-10, bipartisan vote, which Sanders in a press release called "a strong signal of the growing momentum behind proposals to dismantle financial institutions that dominate the U.S. economy."

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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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Public Option Still Dead... At Least For Now

March 25, 2010 - by Eric Naing

Some liberals have been pushing Democrats to include a public option in the reconciliation bill for health care (H.R.4872). The party's response: a public option can't be included because doing so would complicate things by forcing the House to re-vote on the updated version of the bill. So what's going to happen now that the House has to re-vote on the bill anyway?

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Sanders, Schakowsky Push Military Contractor Ban

February 23, 2010 - by Eric Naing

Two liberal Democrats are teaming up to stop the government from hiring private military contractors like Blackwater in war zones. Rep. Jan Schakowsky [D, IL-9] and Sen. Bernie Sanders [D, VT] today announced the introduction of the Stop Outsourcing Security Act, which prevents the government from using private firms for security, law enforcement, rescue and intelligence purposes.

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More Liberals Push For Public Option Revival

February 18, 2010 - by Eric Naing

The public option, declared dead time and time again throughout the health care reform process, is once again showing faint signs of life. As I mentioned before, four Senate Democrats the week signed onto a letter urging their colleagues to pass the public option through the Senate under reconciliation – a process that requires 51 votes instead of the 60 now mandated by near-constant GOP filibustering. Since the letter was released, 16 Senate Democrats have signed on. The majority of these ...

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Congress Links

January 27, 2010 - by Eric Naing

State of the Union Day is finally here. As the president sets the agenda for the coming year, many issues from climate change legislation to “don't ask, don't tell” could be affected, but none moreso than healthcare:

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Bernie Sanders on Brown Win: It's the Economy...

January 20, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

The shocking Massachusetts Senate election has everyone talking about health care. But not Sen. Bernie Sanders [I, VT]. He thinks the Massachusetts voters were reacting to the state of the economy, not the health care bill.

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