As Chris Hayes noted, it's rare you find this kind of bipartisanship in Washington D.C. these days, but we got it with the 96-0 vote to pass Sen. Bernie Sanders amendment to audit the Federal Reserve.
The Senate adopted an amendment Tuesday to the financial-overhaul bill that would boost transparency of the Federal Reserve's emergency lending actions during the financial crisis. Lawmakers voted 96-0 to incorporate the modified amendment offered by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.), who scaled back his original language last week to overcome White House objections.
"This amendment begins the process of lifting the veil of secrecy of perhaps the most powerful federal agency," Mr. Sanders said at a news conference after the vote. Once the audit is completed, Mr. Sanders said he hopes it will unveil so many "back-room deals" that people will push for even more disclosure.
Sen. Sanders explained what's in his amendment to Chris Hayes who was filling in for Rachel Maddow. I know a lot of people would have liked to this audit to go further but considering the political environment we're living in, I'm surprised he managed to get this passed. Sanders gave credit to a strong grass roots movement from both sides of the aisle coming together and pushing our politicians for its success. This is one instance I must say where I'm glad to see that happen. I want to see the Fed audited.
Here's more from Sen. Sanders press release.
May 11, 2010
WASHINGTON, May 11 – In a major victory for transparency at the Federal Reserve, the Senate today passed an amendment by Sen. Bernie Sanders to audit the Fed and make the central bank reveal which banks received more than $2 trillion in emergency aid during the financial crisis
“The Fed can no longer operate in virtual secrecy,” said Sanders (I-Vt.).
Under his amendment, the Government Accountability Office would conduct a top-to-bottom audit of all emergency actions by the Fed since the start of the financial crisis in 2007. The non-partisan research arm of Congress specifically would be directed to investigate apparent conflicts of interest involving the Fed and CEOs of the largest financial institutions in the country.
In addition to the audit, the Fed for the first time would have to reveal by Dec. 1, 2010, the identities of banks and other financial institutions that took more than $2 trillion in nearly zero-interest loans.
Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke repeatedly refused to tell Sanders and others the names of the banks which took the loans.
“Let's be clear,” Sanders said. “When trillions of dollars of taxpayer money are being lent out to the largest financial institutions in this country, the American people have a right to know who received that money and what they did with it. We also need to know what possible conflicts of interest exist involving the heads of large financial institutions who sat in the room helping to make those decisions.”
The amendment, approved by a vote of 96 to 0, was a combined effort by conservative and progressive senators and a wide spectrum of grass roots organizations.
The Fed is fighting federal court judgments ordering the central bank to divulge the information that was sought in Freedom of Information Act lawsuits by Bloomberg News and other news organizations.
The information that the Fed has withheld is separate from the $700 billion in Wall Street bailouts approved by Congress under the Troubled Asset Relief Program. Recipients of those funds were posted on the Treasury Department Web site.