Fact Sheet: The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission

The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission will consist of six Democrats and four Republicans, appointed by the leaders in each house of Congress. No current officeholders at the federal, state, or local level will be allowed to serve on it.

The commission is expected to receive $5 million in funding. According to Lee Hamilton, the co-chair of the committee 9/11 commission, the $3 million budget they had was not sufficient to have a thorough investigation. This suggests current proposals at 5 million dollars for a Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission could be insufficient.

The commission has the authority to examine a wide range of issues related to the economic crisis, from the lack of regulation in Washington to reckless practices on Wall Street. Witnesses are required to testify under oath. The commission is allowed to grant subpoenas if one member of the minority party votes with the majority to issue a subpoena. The commission is to refer any information regarding alleged law violations to the U.S. Attorney General and appropriate state attorneys general.

The legislation grants the commission access to information it needs from any federal government agency or office. President Obama attached a signing statement to the legislation that reserves the right of the administration to withhold certain information based on “constitutional privilege.”

A report to Congress is due no later than December 15, 2010, but just on the causes of the current financial and economic crisis. The mandate for creating the commission does not clearly call it to present recommendations on how to fix the problem.