This morning, the U.S. House of Representatives Oversight and Government Reform Committee unanimously passed Ron Paul's latest "Audit the Fed" bill, H.R. 459.
The bill would eliminate certain restrictions that now exist on any audits done on the Federal Reserve from 31 U.S.C. 714, such as:
Audits of the Board and Federal reserve banks may not include—
(1) transactions for or with a foreign central bank, government of a foreign country, or nonprivate international financing organization;
(2) deliberations, decisions, or actions on monetary policy matters, including discount window operations, reserves of member banks, securities credit, interest on deposits, and open market operations;
(3) transactions made under the direction of the Federal Open Market Committee; or
(4) a part of a discussion or communication among or between members of the Board and officers and employees of the Federal Reserve System related to clauses (1)–(3) of this subsection.
Again, the above are the existing restrictions that H.R. 459, if it eventually passes the full House and then becomes law in unaltered or unamended form, will eliminate from Fed audits. By the time his last try at this got in some form into a final bill, even Ron Paul himself wouldn't vote for that whole bill.
The Hill explains what happened today:
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), was advanced by the committee on a bipartisan voice vote with no vocal opposition.
The measure, which has garnered 257 co-sponsors from both parties, would require the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to conduct a full audit of the Fed's operations, including its monetary policy deliberations.
House GOP leaders have previously signaled that Paul's bill would garner floor attention sometime in July. A similar measure pushed by the End the Fed author was part of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law when it was passed by the House, but was later trimmed to require a GAO study of just the Fed's emergency lending operations during the financial crisis, and the potential for conflicts of interest on the boards of the regional Fed banks.
Before the bill was cleared by the committee, however, ranking member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) attempted to introduce an amendment that would prevent the GAO from auditing the Fed's deliberations on monetary policy. Cummings withdrew the amendment after Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) voiced opposition, saying it "essentially guts this bill."
For more on the bill's purpose, see this from the dedicated "Audit the Fed" web site.
There is a companion bill in the Senate, the "Federal Reserve Transparency Act of 2011" (S.202), introduced by Sen. Rand Paul, not yet out of committee. In an emailed press release this morning, Sen. Paul said:
"Today, I applaud the unanimous passage of Audit the Fed out of committee and commend House leadership for promising a vote on Audit the Fed next month," Sen. Paul said. "It is important that we get our economy growing again through savings and investment, not more debt and deficit spending. But we can't turn the economy around until we fix the root of the problem: an unaccountable Federal Reserve. A complete and thorough audit of the Fed will finally allow the American people to know exactly how their money is being spent by Washington."
"I have introduced similar legislation in the Senate and will continue to fight on the frontlines of this battle to get Audit the Fed passed through Congress," he continued.
When Ron Paul is gone from Congress next year, who will be left who believes in not only auditing but eventually ending the Fed? Hopefully, Michigan Republican Justin Amash, who calls for such an end in this talk at an International Students for Liberty Conference:
My November 2009 Reason magazine feature on the anti-Federal Reserve movement. My new book Ron Paul's Revolution: The Man and the Movement He Inspired.