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House panel passes bill to audit the Fed

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         House panel passes bill to audit the Fed

A House panel on Tuesday approved legislation that would let a government watchdog audit the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy decisions, a move bitterly opposed by the central bank.

The House Committee on oversight and government reform passed the measure by voice vote after roughly 30 minutes of debate.

The bill was the brainchild of Ron Paul, the former House Republican and libertarian presidential candidate and sharp critic of the U.S. monetary policy. Versions of the bill have twice passed the House by wide margins but then stalled due to lack of support from Democrats in the Senate and the Obama administration.

Analysts said the measure has a better chance to become law now that Republicans control both houses of Congress and the White House. Paul’s son, Rand, the Republican senator from Kentucky, has introduced a similar measure in the Senate.

“It is ironic that the arsonists that caused the financial collapse are now being given credit…for putting out the fire.”

Democrats in the committee were firmly against the bill.

“This bill would open the floodgates to political interference in monetary-policy making,” said Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democrat from the District of Columbia.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney, a Democrat from New York, said the measure would lead to higher interest rates because it would undermine the market’s confidence in the independence of the central bank.

Republicans said the measure was needed to rein in the Fed.

“It is ironic that the arsonists that caused the financial collapse are now being given credit…for putting out the fire. Almost every macroeconomist concedes in retrospect that [the Fed’s] extended period of easy money led to the financial crisis,” said Rep. Thomas Massie, a Republican from Kentucky.

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