Senate Votes to Audit Federal Reserve

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke smiles prior to taking part in a meeting of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, April 27, 2010, in Washington. AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

The U.S. Senate has voted unanimously to authorize an examination of the Federal Reserve's closely guarded emergency lending to financial institutions in the months surrounding the 2008 financial crisis.

The measure passed 96-0 as an amendment to a comprehensive financial regulation bill before the Senate.

The U.S. central bank also would have to post on its Web site information regarding those loans, including the identity of the recipients.

The one-time audit would be carried out by Congress' investigative arm, the Government Accountability Office, and cover a period beginning in December 2007. At its peak, at the end of 2008, the Fed's lending totaled $1.16 trillion.

The proposal gained momentum after its lead sponsor, Sen. Bernard Sanders, an independent, narrowed the audit's scope and the Obama administration dropped its objections.
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