POLITICS
07/04/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Fed Audit Amendment Gaining Momentum

A Senate amendment to open the Federal Reserve to a government audit continued to pick up support on Tuesday. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), who voted against a similar measure in early 2009, signed on to the amendment, as did Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.).

From the other end of the spectrum, the national conservative group Americans for Limited Government began lobbying senators to back the amendment, sponsored by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). Joining ALG is MoveOn.org, which said its five million progressive members want transparency at the Fed.

"The Fed is supposed to monitor the economy for systemic risks and take action to prevent them. But instead, they let the housing bubble grow disastrously big and then tried to clean up the mess they made as quietly as possible--using our money. And yet, members of the Federal Reserve, like chair Ben Bernanke, think that they should be able to continue business as usual with no transparency," wrote MoveOn's Daniel Mintz in an email to supporters.

Adding Cantwell and Shaheen could put the amendment well over the 60 it may need to pass, but Wall Street, the administration and the Fed are pushing back. Senators who previously supported a Fed audit, such as Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), told HuffPost they were not sure how they'd vote on Sanders' amendment.

A vote on the amendment had been predicted for Tuesday, but following a lunch-time meeting of Democrats, Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) told Sanders it would likely be Wednesday or Thursday, as he wanted to get to some "non-controversial" amendments first.

"I think we've got a real shot at this," Sanders said. "Am I concerned that some of the most powerful and wealthiest people in the world are in opposition to my amendment? People who have run the United States Congress for decades? Do I have any worry about that? Yeah, I do."

The Fed has been working hard against the amendment. Sanders said that the Fed isn't necessarily breaking the law that prohibits it from lobbying. "The way you get around that is you 'provide information'," Sanders said.