The White House, Federal Reserve and Wall Street lobbyists are kicking up their opposition to an amendment to audit the Fed as a Senate vote approaches, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the lead sponsor of the measure, said on Monday.
Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), who is shepherding the bill through the Senate, told Sanders Monday afternoon that “there’s a shot we’ll be up tomorrow,” Sanders told HuffPost.
In the spring of 2009, Sanders brought a similar amendment to the Senate floor and won 59 votes. Eight senators who voted against it then are now cosponsors of his current measure.
“I think momentum is with us. But I’ve gotta tell you, that on this amendment, you’re taking on all of Wall Street, you’re taking on the Fed, obviously, and unfortunately you seem to be taking on the White House, as well. And that’s a tough group to beat,” said Sanders.
He’s been trading calls, he said, with Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff.
Earlier on Monday, HuffPost reported that former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan wanted dissent kept secret so that people outside the Fed wouldn’t involve themselves in their debates.
“We run the risk, by laying out the pros and cons of a particular argument, of inducing people to join in on the debate, and in this regard it is possible to lose control of a process that only we fully understand,” Greenspan said, according to the transcripts of a March 2004 meeting. “I’m a little concerned about other people getting into the debate when they know far less than we do.”
Sanders said that Greenspan’s comments are all the more reason for an audit. “I think it just adds a lot of weight to what we are trying to do,” Sanders said. “It just points to the fact that if there was more transparency then it in fact would have allowed the debate to take place about the subprime mortgage [sic] unfolding crisis at that point. It may have prevented the horrendous recession that we’re in now and the near collapse of the financial institutions.”
Democratic leadership has yet to decide if an amendment will need 51 or 60 votes for passage, but Sanders said he thought the decision would be made to go with 60.
On April 2, 2009, 59 senators voted for the Sanders-Webb-Bunning-Feingold Amendment that would open the Fed to an audit. Then-Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) did not vote and there are indications that his replacement, Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.), is supportive.
Meanwhile, eight of the 39 no votes have since signed on to a Sanders bill to audit the Fed or the amendment that will come up: Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wy.), Bob Bennett (R-Utah), Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).
Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.) voted no, but has since been replaced by Republican Sen. George LeMieux.
With Brown, the Sanders amendment would have 69 votes. It has already passed the House of Representatives.
The Yes votes in Arpil 2009 (59)
The no voters who have since signed on to an audit (8)
The no voters who have not signed on to an audit and are still in the Senate (30)