Today, the House Financial Services Committee passed an amendment to their financial regulatory reform bill that would mandate an audit of the Federal Reserve. The Paul-Grayson amendment, named for its chief sponsors, Reps. Ron Paul and Alan Grayson, passed the committee by a count of 43-26.

Supporters of the audit the Fed effort were concerned that a competing amendment by Mel Watt would gut whatever Paul-Grayson added in transparency to the Fed. After heated discussion today inside the committee, it appears that Paul and Grayson have won this round.

The bill has yet to reach the floor of the House. The Senate’s version of financial reform, written by Chris Dodd, also has a mechanism to audit the Fed, but that has not yet been marked up in the Senate Banking Committee.

…It should be noted that an overall final vote on financial regulatory reform from the Committee, expected today, was blocked, chiefly by members of the Congressional Black Caucus, panicked about having to take the vote at a time of double-digit unemployment.

(Rep. Barney) Frank told the panel that most of the members pushing him to postpone the vote were members of the Congressional Black Caucus who said that the political environment wasn’t right for a vote this afternoon.

“It’s my understanding,” Frank said, “that the issues being addressed are not internal to this bill.” In other words, the Democrats were not expressing particular problems with the bill itself, but the larger problems in the economy made them reluctant to support a bill that could be portrayed as too friendly to Wall Street.

This calls into question whether the House can finish work on the bill on schedule, by the second week of December.

UPDATE: OK, there’s something going on here. This comment shows the yeas and nays on the bill. If you check it, you’ll see that practically every member of the Congressional Black Caucus voted against the Paul-Grayson amendment.

CA-35 Rep. Maxine Waters nay, GA-13 Rep. David Scott yay, IN-07 Rep. Andre Carson nay, MN-05 Rep. Keith Ellison nay, MO-01 Rep. William Lacy Clay yay, MO-05 Rep. Emanuel Cleaver nay, NC-12 Rep. Melvin L. Watt nay, NY-06 Rep. Gregory W. Meeks nay, TX-09 Rep. Al Green nay, WI-04 Rep. Gwen Moore nay

That’s 8-2 against the amendment. At one level they’re backing up their member, Mel Watt.

However, right after the vote they all run to Barney Frank and tell him that they can’t vote for final passage of the bill because it might be seen as too industry-friendly? That’s a strange context for that, coming on the heels of a vote to audit the Federal Reserve and find out what they’re doing with trillions of dollars of taxpayer money.

(Rep. Barney) Frank told the panel that most of the members pushing him to postpone the vote were members of the Congressional Black Caucus who said that the political environment wasn’t right for a vote this afternoon.

That’s… interesting. I’ll try to dig something up in the morning.