Congressman Bill Owens voted this afternoon in favor of H.R. 459, the Federal Reserve Transparency Act, which requires a complete audit of all the activities at the Federal Reserve to hold it accountable to the American taxpayer. The legislation passed 327-98.
"The public deserves more accountability of their money and more transparency from Washington," Owens said. "This legislation calls for a one time audit of the Federal Reserve and, after reviewing the results, we can decide how to proceed in the future."
H.R. 459 removes restrictions on the General Accountability Office (GAO) and its audits of the Federal Reserve Board and its banks. Under current law, GAO may not audit Fed activities involving foreign central banks, foreign governments or public international financing organizations. The bill also requires GAO to conduct an audit of all activities of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and its banks and report to Congress within one year of enactment. Should H.R. 459 become law, the GAO must also audit within six months the Fed's review of homeowners' loan files who were in foreclosure in 2009 or 2010.
The Federal Reserve is the central banking system of the United States, made up of 12 regional banks located in cities around the country, privately owned American member banks, and various advisory councils. It was created in 1913 to conduct the nation's monetary policy, supervise and regulate banks, and provide financial services to depository institutions, the federal government, and foreign official institutions. Unlike other central banks, the Fed's decisions do not have to be ratified by the president or Congress.
Although the Fed is subject to congressional oversight, its most important actions are not subject to review. These actions include monetary policy actions, direct loans to financial institutions, open-market operations, and dealings with foreign governments and other central banks.