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.

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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 GrassleyRepublicans jockey for position on immigration House clears bill to combat crimes against elderly Grassley: DACA deal wouldn't need border wall funding MORE (R-Iowa), Saxby ChamblissSaxby 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 HarkinThe Hill's 12:30 Report Distance education: Tumultuous today and yesterday Grassley challenger no stranger to defying odds MORE (D-Iowa), Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchGOP eyes limits on investor tax break Children’s health-care bill faces new obstacles Overnight Finance: White House requests B for disaster relief | Ex-Equifax chief grilled over stock sales | House panel approves B for border wall | Tax plan puts swing-state Republicans in tough spot MORE (R-Utah), James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeA third of Congress hasn’t held a town hall — it’s time to take action Anonymous affiliate publishes claimed list of GOP private contact info Wasting America’s nuclear opportunity MORE (R-Okla.), Johnny IsaksonJohn (Johnny) Hardy IsaksonAmeriCorps hurricane heroes deserve a reward — don’t tax it Price’s job seen at risk after Trump slams private jet use Senate passes bipartisan Medicare reform bill MORE (R-Ga), Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonSenate panel approves bill to speed up driverless cars Dems plan to make gun control an issue in Nevada Overnight Cybersecurity: Trump proclaims 'Cybersecurity Awareness Month' | Equifax missed chance to patch security flaw | Lawmakers await ex-CEO's testimony | SEC hack exposed personal data MORE (D-Fla.), Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersChris Murphy’s profile rises with gun tragedies Clip shows Larry David and Bernie Sanders reacting after discovering they're related For now, Trump dossier creates more questions than answers MORE (I-Vt.) and Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenHomeland Security searching some social media doesn't violate privacy The feds shouldn't blackball Kaspersky without public evidence Week ahead: Crunch time for defense bill’s cyber reforms | Equifax under scrutiny 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.