Fed pressured to detail its support system

Nearly a dozen Democratic and Republican senators are ramping up pressure on the Federal Reserve to release details of all the central bank's steps to shore up the economy.

The Fed has declined to release information on the complete commitments it has made under its powers to support firms under "unusual and exigent circumstances," a wide-ranging power the Fed has had since the 1930s.

Since the financial crisis erupted last year, a growing number of Democrats, Republicans and other critics have lambasted the Fed for not releasing more information about the trillions of dollars in commitments the bank has made to firms across the country.

On Friday, 11 senators sent Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke a letter seeking the names and amount of assistance for every firm that the central bank has supported. The government has aided the financial sector through a variety of programs, including the $700 billion bailout package known as the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).

"In light of recent announcements by Goldman Sachs, J. P. Morgan Chase, and others that are reporting very large profits after paying back the TARP funds to the U.S. government, we don’t believe there is now any reason for the Federal Reserve Board to refuse to share information about the companies that were helped by its activities as well as the specific amount of such help for each company,” the senators wrote in the letter.

The senators include: Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyGrassley blasts Democrats over unwillingness to probe Clinton GOP and Dems bitterly divided by immigration Thanks to the farm lobby, the US is stuck with a broken ethanol policy MORE (R-Iowa), Saxby ChamblissClarence (Saxby) Saxby ChamblissLobbying World Former GOP senator: Let Dems engage on healthcare bill OPINION: Left-wing politics will be the demise of the Democratic Party MORE (R-Ga.), Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), Tom HarkinTom HarkinDemocrats are all talk when it comes to DC statehood The Hill's 12:30 Report Distance education: Tumultuous today and yesterday MORE (D-Iowa), Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchMcConnell names Senate GOP tax conferees Ryan pledges 'entitlement reform' in 2018 Utah governor calls Bannon a 'bigot' after attacks on Romney MORE (R-Utah), James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeGOP senator on backing Moore: ‘It’s a numbers game’ Overnight Energy: Panel advances controversial Trump nominee | Ex-coal boss Blankenship to run for Senate | Dem commissioner joins energy regulator Senate panel advances controversial environmental nominee MORE (R-Okla.), Johnny IsaksonJohn (Johnny) Hardy IsaksonSenate ethics panel wants details on sexual harassment allegations Senate leaders push tax debate into Friday Senate Ethics Committee opens 'preliminary inquiry' into Franken allegations MORE (R-Ga), Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonOvernight Health Care: Ryan's office warns he wasn't part of ObamaCare deal | House conservatives push for mandate repeal in final tax bill | Dem wants probe into CVS-Aetna merger Ryan's office warning he wasn't part of deal on ObamaCare: source Overnight Health Care: Funding bill could provide help for children's health program | Questions for CVS-Aetna deal | Collins doubles funding ask for ObamaCare bill MORE (D-Fla.), Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersSchumer: Franken should resign Franken resignation could upend Minnesota races Avalanche of Democratic senators say Franken should resign MORE (I-Vt.) and Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenDems demand Tillerson end State hiring freeze, consult with Congress The Hill Interview: GOP chairman says ‘red flags’ surround Russian cyber firm Schumer celebrates New York Giants firing head coach: ‘About time’ MORE (D-N.H.).

A bill sponsored by Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) and supported by hundreds of Democratic and Republican House members calls for an audit of the Federal Reserve by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

The increased pressure on the Fed comes as the Obama administration seeks to empower the central bank with new authorities to oversee "systemic risk" in the financial system. As part of the administration's overhaul plan, however, the Fed would lose its consumer protection responsibilities to a new agency.