Senators are set to vote on amendment to audit Federal Reserve

By Brady Dennis
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Lawmakers on Tuesday are likely to vote on an amendment by Sen. Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.) to expand oversight of the Federal Reserve.

Sanders's amendment to the Senate's financial regulation bill would give the Government Accountability Office the power to audit the Federal Reserve and compel the central bank to disclose details about the firms that received emergency aid during the financial crisis.

Sanders's measure mirrors legislation introduced by Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) and approved overwhelmingly by the House last year.

Under pressure from the Obama administration, Sanders last week agreed to scale back his initial proposal, which would have required the Fed to undergo regular audits. The new language prevents investigators from peering into the agency's deliberations on setting interest rates and other elements of monetary policy.

Still, the Fed would have to submit to a one-time examination of its massive emergency lending programs and would have to post details on its Web site about firms that benefited from its lending during the crisis.

Scores of other amendments also are vying for Senate consideration -- one would roll back a provision that would force banks to spin off their derivatives operations; another would limit their speculative trading.

It is unclear how many of the nearly 190 amendments that have been filed will receive a vote. Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) has said he hopes to finish the bill this week, though deliberations could last longer.

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