Democratic leaders had a lot of good reason to slap down Mitch McConnell’s latest “urgent” attempt to railroad them into passing emergency coronavirus stimulus legislation. We’re just learning now the things that were somehow, mysteriously slipped into the last rushed bill. Like another end-run around oversight and accountability, this time with the Federal Reserve and the $450 billion corporate bailout fund.
The law allows the Federal Reserve to set up its bailouts in secret, exempting it from its long-standing rule that it has to give at least one day’s notice before it meets to decide who’s getting billions in taxpayer dollars and from having to keep records about these decisions. It’s not clear where the changes came from; Politico says they “appear to have been inserted into the 880-page bill by sympathetic senators during the scramble to get it approved.” Gee, sympathetic senators wouldn’t be the McConnell Republicans who tried to railroad through $500 billion in giveaways to corporations while tossing $1,200 in one-time cash payments to the plebes, now would they?
In addition to not having to announce to the world when they’ll be meeting to dole out all these billions, the law sets aside the rule that the board has to keep minutes of closed-door meetings. It only has to keep a record of its votes, not its deliberations, and they don’t have to even make those votes public during the crisis. “We may never know what terms are being given to banks, what collateral is being offered, what repayment methods and duties banks and other financial institutions may have,” said Charles Glasser, a media attorney who represented Bloomberg News in a public records lawsuit against the Fed after the 2008 financial crisis told Politico. “And these are important questions.” He says the new provision in this law “is written too broadly and allows the Federal Reserve to avoid its responsibilities of public disclosure as the courts have described them.”
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This is on top of Trump’s stonewalling every effort at oversight and accountability. But this one is on Mitch McConnell and his Republicans—the virus vultures in the Senate who used their advanced knowledge of the horror that was coming not to prepare to avoid mass deaths in the populace, but to make a few million in stock trades.
So there’s one more thing that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democratic Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer have to get into the next bill. They need to slap those rules right back on the Fed and be loud and clear about why they’re doing it so McConnell can’t stop them. Vote Blue in November 2020.