Senate’s Audit the Fed vote also tells Fed to disclose loans to banks

The Senate added to its financial reform bill a provision requiring the Federal Reserve to disclose loans made to banks that the government fought in court to withhold.

The amendment to the financial reform bill (pdf) by Sen. Sanders requires the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to audit the Fed.

Receiving less attention in reports is the requirement that by Dec 1, 2010, the Fed should disclose of all loans and other financial assistance made from December 1, 2007 to the day the legislation is signed into law.  The provision requires disclosure of the identity of who received the funds, the type of assistance, the date assistance was provide, and repayment terms.  Bloomberg had sued the Fed for this type of information

The negotiated language drops a requirement that the Fed disclose future loans and assistance programs every year going forward; thus, the amendment is silent on whether the Freedom of Information At would require disclosure of any loans or other forms of assistance before this date, if any were made, and any future loan programs.

So while it doesn’t specifically require disclosure of specifics about recipients of any future Fed assistance programs, it also doesn’t write into law a general exemption from FOIA for this type of information.

All in all, given that Congress has a record that favors giving new exemptions to FOIA — there are over 250 on the books that agencies have cited in the last decade — this is a substantial win for FOIA.

For more, read Bloomberg’s piece (of course I must link first to the news organization that sued the Fed). David Herszenhorn covers the vote for the New York Times.


About sunshineingov
Coordinator of the Sunshine in Government Initiative

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