Sanders Concerned White House May Kill Fed Audit Amendment

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Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has rounded up an impressive, bipartisan array of cosponsors to an amendment he authored requiring an audit of the Federal Reserve. Just today, he added Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) to a list that includes 12 Republicans, seven Democrats, in addition to Sanders himself.

In the past, a different version of legislation opening up the fed to audit received 59 votes–one shy of the 60 required to break a filibuster. But eight of the Republicans who voted no are now cosponsors of Sanders’ amendment. That should mean it’s a shoo-in, right?

Not necessarily.“Am I concerned that some of the most powerful and wealthiest people in the world are in opposition to my amendment, people who have run the United States Congress for decades?” Sanders asked reporters rhetorically before a caucus meeting today. “Do I have any worry about that? Yeah. I do.”

“Do I think we’re going to get a vote? Yes. Do I think we have a chance to get 60 votes? Yes.”

When I asked, though, whether he worried that the White House might succeed in peeling away Democratic support for his amendment–just as they did during the health care debate vis-a-vis a popular drug reimportation amendment–Sanders acknowledged it was a real possibility.

And indeed, it’s early to assume that prior support for the idea of auditing the Fed will translate into a vote for Sanders’ amendment.

“I’m looking at it,” Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), who voted for a similar provision in the past, told reporters today. “But I think it may have more potential to politicize the Fed than it does opportunity to really change anything that average Americans are looking for.”

McCaskill went on “I think some of what [Sanders] wants is good, like knowing who got the money. But I think the amendment may go farther than that this time.”

Sanders appears to have the backing of Majority Leader Harry Reid. At his press conference this afternoon Reid said he hasn’t looked at Sanders’ amendment yet, but likes the idea in theory. “I think they [the Fed] need a little more attention than they have gotten. If he wants to offer that amendment, he can offer that amendment. It’s up to him.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brian Beutler is TPM’s senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he’s led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at brian@talkingpointsmemo.com

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