Congress to Fed: Open the Books

Congressional negotiators have agreed on legislation calling on the Federal Reserve to identify banks and other financial institutions that received more than $2.3 trillion in taxpayer-backed loans and other financial assistance.

The provision - included in a budget resolution passed by the House and Senate today - will put Congress on record in favor of requiring the central bank to reveal the names of financial institutions that borrowed funds since the financial crisis began last year.

Congress passed legislation calling on the Federal Reserve to identify banks and other financial institutions that received more than $2.3 trillion in taxpayer-backed loans and other financial assistance.

The provision - included in a budget resolution passed by the House and Senate on Wednesday - puts Congress on record in favor of requiring the central bank to reveal the names of financial institutions that borrowed funds since the financial crisis began last year.

Senator Bernie Sanders sponsored an amendment on Fed transparency that was initially adopted by the Senate on April 2. The provision was retained by a conference committee in a final agreement on the budget resolution.

The provision paves the way for additional legislation in the area calling on the Federal Reserve to reveal the names of institutions that received assistance, to specify how much money each bank took, and to detail what the financial institutions are doing with the money.

"During the worst financial crisis in our nation's history since the Great Depression - a crisis which has led to the largest taxpayer bailout ever - the very least we can do is explain to the American people what the Federal Reserve is doing with their hard-earned taxpayer dollars," Sanders said.

At a Senate Budget Committee hearing on March 3, Sanders asked Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke to name the hundreds of banks that took money since the financial crisis began. Bernanke refused to name any of the financial institutions and would not say what the banks are doing with the money.

Sanders noted that a separate $700 billion financial rescue package that was signed into law last October requires the Treasury Department to identify recipients of bailout funds.

Where did $2 trillion go? Click here to watch Sanders discuss this on the Senate floor.

To watch Sanders and Bernanke at a budget committee hearing, click here.

To watch Sanders floor statement on the amendment, click here.

To read the Federal Reserve provision in the budget resolution conference committee report, click here.