The House on Wednesday voted overwhelmingly to require a full audit of the Federal Reserve, an action more and more members support in light of the Fed's increasing importance and role in the U.S. economy.
Republican leaders called up the Federal Reserve Transparency Act on Tuesday, and approved it in a 333-92 vote Wednesday afternoon — all but one of the "no" votes came from Democrats. The bill calls for a full audit of the Fed, including its private discussions related to monetary policy, by the Government Accountability Office.
The House voted Wednesday to require a full audit of the Federal Reserve, led by Chair Janet Yellen. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
The Fed has been subject to annual audits since the late 1970s, and the Dodd-Frank bill of 2010 called for a closer look at the billions of dollars of federal debt the Fed has bought in response to the Great Recession. But the sponsor of the bill, Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.), said an even closer look is needed given the steady decline of the dollar over the last several decades.
"Since the Federal Reserve's establishment in 1913, the value of the U.S. dollar has fallen 95 percent," he said Tuesday. "In other words, the value of today's dollar is approximately worth one nickel of what a dollar was worth in 1913."
"What this does is cause a dramatic decline in the value of the U.S. dollar, and it is driven by the easy money policies of the Federal Reserve," he said. "What does this mean in practical terms for the American people?"
Broun said that while the Fed has operated in secrecy, more needs to be known about its monetary policy decisions given how much they affect people.
"The expansion in money supply under the Federal Reserve has led to an unstable environment of booms and busts that have wrecked the financial security and stability of average Americans," he added. "This hurts poor people and senior citizens and the middle class the absolute most."
Only one member spoke against the bill on Tuesday — Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), who warned that the bill would eliminate the Fed's independence.
"This bill would severely curtail the independence that has been a hallmark for the Federal Reserve and has been essential to its ability to strengthen our country," he said. "Specifically, H.R. 24 would permit GAO to audit the communications that members of the Federal Reserve's Board of Governors have with each other and with staff regarding monetary policy."
The legislation is similar to a bill the House passed in 2012 that was proposed by then-Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas). The vote two years ago was 327-98, showing that support for a full audit of the Fed has increased slightly.