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In a Thursday letter to the House Financial Services Committee, economists like Dean Baker and Rob Johnson, author Naomi Klein, and such labor luminaries as the AFL-CIO's Richard Trumka and the SEIU's Andy Stern, urged committee members to shoot down an amendment by Rep. Mel Watt (D-N.C.) that would essentially allow the Fed to keep the lights off while it throws money around. Watt's amendment, which could see a House vote today, is a direct attack against a separate measure by Reps. Ron Paul (R-Texas) and Alan Grayson (D-Fla.). That measure, known as the "Audit the Fed" bill, has been gaining momentum in Congress for months.
In an unprecedented defeat for the Federal Reserve, an amendment to audit the multi-trillion dollar institution was approved by the House Finance Committee with an overwhelming and bipartisan 43-26 vote on Thursday afternoon despite harried last-minute lobbying from top Fed officials and the surprise opposition of Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who had previously been a supporter. The measure, cosponsored by Reps. Ron Paul (R-Texas) and Alan Grayson (D-Fla.), authorizes the Government Accountability Office to conduct a wide-ranging audit of the Fed's opaque deals with foreign central banks and major U.S. financial institutions. The Fed has never had a real audit in its history and little is known of what it does with the trillions of dollars at its disposal.