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Paul Scrambles to Ensure Weakened Fed Audit Bill Has Teeth

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By Mark Anderson

AFP heard at the November 22 End-the-Fed rally in Dallas that HR 1207, the House bill to audit the Federal Reserve System, had been voted out of committee, but that did not really happen. However, the House Financial Services Committee voted 43-26 to pass an amendment to a financial regulatory reform bill—an amendment that calls for an audit similar to the way that HR 1207 does.

This approved amendment, from congressmen Ron Paul and Alan Grayson, beat an effort by North Carolina Rep. Mel Watt—who represents a major banking center in Charlotte—to offer his own amendment that would have made the Fed audit more difficult, a press staffer for Rep. Paul told AFP on Dec. 1.

“Financial Services leadership has seemed determined . . . that if an audit of the Fed were to get out of committee, it should be attached to an overall regulatory reform package that would actually increase the powers of the Fed,” cautioned a posting at the Campaign for Liberty (CFL) website, a grassroots outfit founded by Rep. Paul in 2008, when the first End-the-Fed rallies were held and a bill to dissolve the Fed, HR 2755, was floated but died for lack of support.

The Paul-Grayson amendment gives the Government Accountability Office power to audit the Fed’s “entire $2 trillion balance sheet,” claims the CFL, replacing Watt’s language that would have further restricted GAO audits of the Fed.

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The Paul-Grayson amendment says the audit “shall not include unreleased transcripts or minutes of meetings of the Board of Governors or of the Federal Open Market Committee,” which staunch Fed opponents may see as too soft of an approach. The amendment language says that any audit aspect that deals with such “market actions” shall require the release of these transcripts only after 180 days have passed.

The key amendment wording is: “An audit of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and the Federal Reserve banks under subsection (b) shall be completed within 12 months of the enactment of the
Financial Stability ImprovementAct of 2009 [HR 3996],” and that a report on the audit “shall be submitted by the Comptroller General to the Congress before the end of the 90-day period beginning on the date on which such audit is completed and made available” to all relevant House and Senate leaders and any legislator who requests a copy.

CFL sees Rep.Watt as trying to gut HR 1207. “While this is a victory over an attempted hijacking of our cause, the audit authority is still being rolled into the Financial Stability Improvement Act, a bill that Campaign for Liberty will oppose,” CFL’s online posting also says, pointing to the irony of the situation.

Paul’s press spokesperson told AFP that Paul himself expects to vote against the very regulatory act into which the Paul-Grayson amendment was inserted, and that he inserted it so “a very dark cloud will have a silver lining” if the bill passes despite his opposition. The timetable for HR 3996 is hard to predict as Christmas nears. “That’s up to the committee chairman, Mr. Frank,” Paul’s press staffer said.

Mark Anderson is a longtime newsman now working as the deputy editor for American Free Press. Together he and his wife Angie provide many photographs of the events they cover for AFP. Mark welcomes your comments and input as well as story leads. Email him at at truthhound2@yahoo.com.

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