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Ron Paul's 'Audit the Fed' bill passes the House

July 25, 2012: 3:55 PM ET

Rep. Ron Paul's bill to audit the Federal Reserve passed the House, Wednesday.

Rep. Ron Paul must be delighted. His pet project -- a bill to audit the Federal Reserve -- just passed the House and will move on to the Senate.

The bill's goal is not to be confused with a financial audit. Instead, it would open the Fed's decision making process up to a full investigation.

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke called it a "nightmare scenario" in testimony last week, because he believes it could influence Fed officials to make decisions based on politics, rather than economics.

The Federal Reserve's finances are already audited every year by an independent accounting firm. The central bank also publishes its balance sheet every Thursday online.

What Ron Paul wants to do, is to open up the Fed's closed-door deliberations for review. Currently, monetary policy decisions are made in secret. Minutes are only released with a three-week lag, and full transcripts are published  five years after the fact.

Paul also wants the public to have access to records showing the Fed's transactions with its member banks, as well as foreign central banks and governments. Current law protects the Fed from releasing that information.

In debate on the House floor, proponents hailed the bill for increasing transparency.  It passed with bipartisan support, 327 to 98.

Opponents, including Rep. Barney Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat, criticized the bill for threatening the Fed's independence.

"We're taking fake punches at the Federal Reserve but not doing anything serious," he said Tuesday.

The bill is not expected to pass the Democrat-controlled Senate.

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