The facade of the U.S. Federal Reserve building is reflected on wet marble during the early morning hours in Washington, July 31, 2013. (REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)
By Michael Flaherty and Alistair Bell
WASHINGTON Thu Jul 10, 2014 4:02am EDT
(Reuters) – A surge of Republican pressure is bringing the Federal Reserve’s long-held independence into question again, as conservative lawmakers seek to place the U.S. central bank under tougher scrutiny.
With Democrats controlling the Senate since the 2008 financial crisis, the bank and its supporters have had the luxury of shrugging off Fed-related laws from the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.
But a Republican takeover of the Senate in November’s midterm elections would increase the chances of some of those measures hitting the Senate floor, and changing the way the Fed functions.
Two Republican congressmen proposed a new bill on Monday that would force the Fed to disclose information it has historically kept private. That bill will be discussed at a hearing on Thursday by the House Financial Services Committee, which is convening a panel to discuss reforming the Fed.
“I think there’s a chance of legislation that affects us,” Richmond Fed President Jeffrey Lacker, told reporters in Lynchburg, Va., last month. “I think it’s something that people within the system are aware of. I just hope it’s legislation that’s constructive and useful.”
At least two of the Senate seats up for grabs feature candidates who strongly support auditing the Fed, including Rep. Cory Gardner of Colorado and Rep. Steve Daines of Montana. Polls show Daines well ahead in his race while Gardner is neck and neck with his Democratic opponent.
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