Momentum toward a Pecora Commission-style inquest into the roots of the financial crisis got a boost from the Senate on Wednesday when it approved an amendment to a financial fraud bill that would authorize a select investigative committee.
If the bill passes with the amendment, which was approved by voice vote Wednesday night, the panel would "examine all causes, domestic and global, of the current financial and economic crisis in the United States."
The amendment has some key elements of what we have been calling for. The committee would be comprised of 10 people chosen by both parties in the House and Senate, and would explicitly have the power to subpoena witnesses and collect sworn testimony. The committee would have a year to submit its first report to the Senate, and would have two years to submit a final report.
Sen. Kent Conrad,D. N.D., cosponsored the amendment with Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga. The bill that the amendment was attached to, The Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act, is being debated on the Senate floor today and could be voted on later today.
In the meantime, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi promised that she would flesh out her own call for a Pecora Commission by the end of this week. If it is at least as tough as the Senate bill, we will have an important foundation for driving the accountability and reform that we need.
This post has been corrected. Several details in the original version related to the creation of a Senate select committee on the financial crisis, which was also added by amendment, not to the independent commission.