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Shaheen Flips, Will Co-Sponsor Audit The Fed Amendment

I don’t really see how the White House will stop the audit the Fed amendment from passing if even Senators who voted against a similar amendment last year are flipping to support.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) will co-sponsor an amendment that would require government auditors to open up the books at the Federal Reserve.

Shaheen did not support the bill last year, so she becomes the 68th member of the Senate who is either a co-sponsor of the amendment or the bill with the same language, or voted previously for it. That provides a healthy cushion should the amendment need 60 votes. The amendments process is being worked out as we speak. Simply put, a fairly large chunk of Senators – I would assume Democrats – would have to reverse themselves on the amendment in order to sink it. But here, Shaheen is reversing to SUPPORT it.

TPM speculated earlier today that the President would face pressure to veto the bill if audit the Fed was included, but I really don’t think that he would risk doing something that could be characterized as protecting the banks, especially if he gets the bill through the Senate without the “lobbyist loopholes” the White House has actually identified. What could be the plausible rationale for a veto, if the consumer protection agency is fairly intact, if the derivatives provisions remain strong, if resolution authority retains the same basic format? Obama could plausibly veto the bill if he identified it as too weak – he’d have many more problems vetoing the bill because it’s too strong.

The preferred option for the White House is probably to try to avoid a vote at all. That may work with some of the 166 amendments out there. But with audit the Fed, that possibility is highly unlikely, given the support on both sides of the aisle.

UPDATE: Maria Cantwell has also signed on, but Claire McCaskill is waffling, as the White House tries to pull back enough Democrats to kill the amendment.

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David Dayen

David Dayen