To Fed: No Audit, No Confirmation
By Mark Anderson
Sen. Jim DeMint (R- S.C.) claimed he will keep the reappointment of Ben Bernanke as Federal Reserve Board chairman on hold until there is a Senate vote to audit the Federal Reserve, referring to S.604, which is the companion legislation to the House’s original “Audit the Fed” bill, HR 1207.
DeMint is an influential member of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs—the body that put Bernanke on the hot seat during his recent nomination hearings. That committee, whose jurisdiction includes the Fed’s operations, approved Bernanke’s second four-year term on the board by a 16-7 vote in an executive session Dec. 17. The day before, Time magazine, a banker-friendly pillar of the establishment media named Bernanke “Person of the Year.”
And while the usual suspects in the corporate media expect Bernanke to get the approval of the full Senate for serving another term, DeMint sees things differently. So does Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Ver.).
DeMint recalled that he tried to get a vote on S. 604 as far back as July 6. In a press release, also explained that S. 604, “would remove restrictions on auditing the Fed’s discount-window operations, funding facilities, open market operations and agreements with foreign central banks and governments. The vote was blocked but I pledged to keep fighting to force the Senate to vote.”
But now that the House has pressed an audit-the-Fed amendment to a larger financial regulatory bill known as HR 4173 —and with the full Senate considering whether to confirm Bernanke’s second term and whether to approve S. 604 for a Fed. audit—what are the dynamics at this critical juncture?
DeMint “pledged to object to floor consideration of the nomination until the Senate vote on S. 604, the Federal Reserve Sunshine Act of 2009.” This sounds similar to Sen. Sanders, who introduced S. 604 in the first place and has pledged to block Bernanke’s reappointment by the full Senate. Sanders likely will try to “raise the bar” and require 60 votes to confirm Bernanke, rather than a 51- vote simple majority,
Bernanke’s first four-year term ends Jan. 31, 2010. A Sanders spokesman told AFP that the full Senate probably will not vote on whether to approve Bernanke’s nomination until after Jan. 20, but likely before Jan. 31.
DeMint also has said: “Americans want a new Fed chairman who is willing to provide transparency into the Fed’s actions . . . who is willing to support true monetary reform that guarantees the soundness of our money.” But “changing the conductor on the train,” is not sufficient; derailing the Fed “locomotive” itself is the answer.
“Under Mr. Bernanke’s leadership, the Fed has lent several trillion dollars to failing financial institutions that should have been held accountable by market forces,”
DeMint said. “The total amount of these bailouts exceeds the entire annual budget of the U.S. Yet the public has not been given adequate information about these bailouts. In fact, Mr. Bernanke has led the fight against bipartisan legislation in the House and the Senate to require a full audit of the Fed so Americans know what has taken place and what mistakes have been made,” DeMint said.
The Senate Banking Committee can be reached at (202) 224-7391; fax (202) 224-5137. Any senator can be reached through the switchboard at (202) 224-3121.
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. Email Mark Anderson with your comments at at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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(Issue # 1 & 2, January 4 & 11, 2009)