The WasteWatcher: The Staff Blog of Citizens Against Government Waste

Auditing the Federal Reserve: Foiled Again!

The WasteWatcher is the staff blog of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW). For questions, contact blog@cagw.org.


Overshadowed by the excitement of President Obama’s final State of the Union, the Senate considered a procedural motion on S. 2232, the Federal Reserve Transparency Act of 2015, on January 12, 2016.

This bill, sponsored by Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.), would allow for the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to perform a comprehensive audit on the Federal Reserve by lifting the restrictions placed on the GAO’s ability to audit. Currently, the Federal Reserve’s financial statements are audited by an auditor of their choosing who is not permitted to evaluate the values the Federal Reserve assigns to its assets.

According to Senator Paul’s office, since the Federal Reserve was established in 1913 the purchasing power of the dollar has decreased by 97 percent.  Further complicating a full understanding of the Federal Reserve’s finances, the financial information provided by the Reserve lacks information on underlying mortgage securities, purchase and sale price of those securities, as well as who sold or bought the securities. The cloture motion (i.e., to end debate) needed 60 votes to pass, but it failed on a vote of 53-44.

The vote was primarily along party lines; however, Senators Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) voted in favor of ending debate, while Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) voted against the motion (signaling his willingness for the issue to be filibustered).  Three did not vote:  Senators Cruz (R-Texas), Rubio (R-Fla.), and Franken (D-Minn.).  Similar legislation has passed the GOP-controlled House several times, but it has historically gotten stuck in the Senate, where support for the bill has not been quite strong enough to overcome the 60-vote threshold.

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