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GOP to Use Audit the Fed in FinReg Motion to Recommit

Reid Wilson has the story:

House GOPers will make a push to audit the Federal Reserve in a last-ditch effort to stop financial regulatory reform legislation, leaning on a popular proposal from Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) to make their case.

The GOP will offer the Fed audit as a motion to recommit, the minority’s last chance to alter a bill before final passage. A motion to recommit is subject only to an up-or-down vote, not to debate or amendments.

The regulatory reform measure does have an audit provision in the conference report, but it is limited to loans made by the Fed during the height of the economic crisis. Paul’s bill would allow a total examination of the Fed’s books.

Let’s make something clear about these Republican motions to recommit. The headline piece of the motion is never the only piece. Last month, when they successfully used a motion to recommit to derail the COMPETES Act, the headline piece was about denying compensation to members of the SEC watching porn on the job. But behind that were several cuts to the bill and other spending. Democrats dealt with that by separating out the motion to recommit into nine separate votes, isolating the SEC/porn measure.

The goal is to try to get Democrats to take an embarrassing vote, but if they don’t bite at that, to blunt the effectiveness of their legislation. And the first time anyone sees the language for these motions to recommit comes when the Republicans introduce them on the floor, giving members of Congress 10 minutes to read them. You cannot possibly scour legislation and find all the loopholes contained therein in such a short space of time.

Remember, these are the Republicans who decry the lack of transparency in the House and always demand 72 hours for “the people” to read the bills that go up for a vote. The motions to recommit, however, are another story. It’s a double irony that this particular motion presumably contains an appeal for transparency at the Fed.

Nobody should join a motion to recommit with such a lack of transparency, regardless of the headline piece. And they should be comfortable explaining that to their constituents.

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David Dayen

David Dayen