By Harriet Torry
WASHINGTON -- Congressional Republicans on Wednesday revived bills to subject the Federal Reserve's monetary policy decisions to greater public scrutiny, proposals that didn't get far in recent years but could face brighter prospects under the incoming Trump administration.
Fed officials meet several times a year to decide what to do with short-term interest rates and how to influence them -- actions that affect the borrowing costs of households, businesses and investors across the country. The "Audit the Fed" measures would require the Government Accountability Office to examine those decisions. The Fed's financial statements are already audited, and the GAO can examine most other Fed operations, butCongress has long exempted monetary policy decisions from such scrutiny.
Supporters of the bills say the public deserves more information on how the central bank makes these decisions. Opponents, including Fed officials, warn it could subject policy makers to political pressure that could hurt the economy.
Rep. Thomas Massie (R., Ky.) introduced an "Audit the Fed" bill in the House on Wednesday, and Sen. Rand Paul (R., Ky.) introduced companion legislation in the U.S. Senate.
"Behind closed doors, the Fed crafts monetary policy that will continue to devalue our currency, slow economic growth, and make life harder for the poor and middle class," Mr. Massie said in a statement.
The House passed similar legislation last year, but a Senate bill on the issue was blocked in the Senate. Proponents hope the new measures will garner more votes after President-elect Donald Trump takes office, since he expressed support last year -- via Twitter -- for auditing the central bank.
Mr. Paul's father, former Rep. Ron Paul, had pushed a version of the legislation for years before his son joined the Senate. The idea has gained support in recent years among Republicans wary of the Fed's actions during the financial crisis and its large role in the economy.
Mr. Trump's election could pave the way for a variety of other proposals to overhaul the way the Fed works. Although he hasn't taken positions on every bill, he is viewed as more open to signing such legislation than President Barack Obama, whose administration opposed them.
Write to Harriet Torry at firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
January 04, 2017 15:45 ET (20:45 GMT)
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