The Senate has just passed a stripped-down version of Bernie Sanders’ “Audit the Fed” amendment, which would allow Congress to examine Fed emergency lending during the financial crisis and require the bank to disclose which firms benefited from its actions.
Interesting that what started as one of those strange-bedfellows alliances of the far left and right has turned into something that could win 96 votes in the United States Senate.
UPDATE: How did it do so? In part by becoming a one-off audit, and protecting the Fed from future scrutiny. Witness, a Vitter (R., La.) amendment that would have strengthened the Sanders version was just defeated, 37-62.
In addition to removing the special protections from audits for the Fed from U.S. code, the Vitter amendment adds new language to help preserve the Fed’s political independence. It reads:
“Audits of the Federal Reserve Board and Federal reserve banks shall not include unreleased transcripts or minutes of meetings of the Board of Governors or of the Federal Open Market Committee. To the extent that an audit deals with individual market actions, records related to such actions shall only be released by the Comptroller General after 180 days have elapsed following the effective date of such actions.”
[. . . ]
The major difference between this amendment and one offered by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) “is that the Vitter amendment would allow for government audits of the Federal Reserve going forward into the future, while the Sanders amendment would allow the Fed to continue operating under the same audit protections they enjoy currently after one audit is performed.”