Senate approves toned-down Fed audit

The Senate on Tuesday, with overwhelming support, passed legislation requiring new audits of the Federal Reserve.

The 96-0 vote came after Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) modified an earlier version of the audit legislation that was strongly opposed by the White House and Federal Reserve. They argued the amendment would compromise the independence of U.S. monetary policy.

The Sanders amendment would require a new audit of the Fed's emergency lending during the financial crisis and a new audit of the central bank's governance. It expressly leaves out an audit of the Fed's monetary policymaking. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) is still backing the original version of the amendment, which is expected to fail.

Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), a longtime critic of the Fed, criticized Sanders for modifying the amendment. The House passed legislation in December with a stronger provision on Fed audits; the two bills still need to be reconciled.