On May 6th, the House passed the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act.  The bill is designed to increase responsible and accountable practices in the financial industry.  It authorizes significant funding to investigate fraud on the federal, state, and local level.  It also increases the accountability of the financial and mortgage institutions that contributed to the financial crisis.  The bill will make it a crime to defraud the government of the bailout and stimulus package funds.

One of the most important and underreported sections of the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act will provide the necessary framework to begin learning from the mistakes we have made in the past and what steps we need to take to prevent a similar crisis in the future.  The bill establishes a bipartisan, independent commission to investigate the causes behind the financial crisis and make regulatory recommendations.  The Financial Markets Inquiry Commission will hold hearings and have the power to issue subpoenas for witness testimony and documents.  It will report its findings and conclusions to Congress by December 15, 2010.

I believe that this commission is vital to the success of our recovery efforts and the long-term stability of our economy.  This crisis did not have to happen.  It came about due to a lack of reasonable regulation in our financial sector.  As we work to rebuild our economy, this commission will help us make sure that we do not repeat the same mistakes.

Given recent reports, it appears that positive economic signs are beginning to appear.  Even so, our recovery will take a while and things will not change overnight.  Many Americans are hurting and continue to worry about their family’s ability to make ends meet.  Because of this, and because we must look forward, it is crucial that we address the underlying problems that got us into this financial mess in the first place.  As we attempt to climb out of this recession, we cannot return to business as usual.