The Senate just passed the Sanders amendment, Audit the Fed, by a vote of 96-0.
Though a weaker version than the Paul-Grayson bill that passed the House, the amendment calls for a thorough audit of the Federal Reserve from December, 2007 until the bill is signed into law. This period covers many of the Fed’s questionable activities during the bailouts that have so far been shielded from scrutiny.
I believe the success of the measure can be directly traced to the bipartisan coalition that came together to support Audit the Fed. As I told Ben Smith, with FDL, Dean Baker, Jamie Galbraith, Andy Stern and Richard Trumka on one side, and Grover Norquist, John Tate, Freedomworks and Americans For Tax Reform on the other there was no room for anyone to play the Joe Lieberman role. Nobody could pretend to be “principled” in opposition and take refuge in partisan politics — it would be clear that they were just covering up for the banks.
The bottom line: the Fed never loses. Ever. It’s remarkable that this amendment, even in its current form, passed. It still has to get through conference, however. Chris Dodd, Richard Shelby and Barney Frank are the likely conferees.
Tremendous credit goes to Alan Grayson. It was Grayson who decided to take up Ron Paul’s bill and bring Democratic support for it. When Grayson had a tough time getting Dems to cosponsor anything with Michelle Bachman, FDL whipped liberal validators which allowed Grayson to say “don’t worry about Michelle Bachman, Jamie Galbraith says its a good thing.”
At the time, the banks were focused on their bonuses. Under the radar, Grayson quietly got the number of cosponsors up to 330, which forced Barney Frank to deal with it on the Financial Services Committee. There was a last minute attempt to derail it with the Watt Amendment, and FDL again brought last-minute assistance to Grayson in the form of a letter of support signed by Richard Trumka and Andy Stern among others.
In a political environment where the banks can easily pull the strings of a Congress they have largely bought and paid for, I have to say the passage of this amendment surprises even me. Judd Gregg was making noises about unseemly populism, and Kay Hagan, Richard Burr and Claire McCaskill all said they would oppose it. None did in the end.
Thanks to Michael Ostrolenk of the Liberty Coalition and all of those on both sides of the aisle who had the courage to come together to work on this, even though it meant taking arrows in the back from mindless tribalists. It worked. We beat the banks.
Score one for the people.