Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Isakson, Conrad Praise House Passage of Legislation to Investigate Economic Crisis

Independent, Bipartisan Financial Markets Commission Would Have Subpoena Power

U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Kent Conrad, D-N.D., today praised the House’s passage of a financial fraud bill that includes their proposal to create a Financial Markets Commission charged with fully investigating the causes of the current financial and economic crisis in the United States. The House passed the legislation by a vote of 367 to 59.

Isakson and Conrad originally introduced legislation to examine the causes of the current economic crisis in January 2009. On April 22, the Senate overwhelmingly passed an amendment by Isakson and Conrad to the Senate’s version of the financial fraud bill that would create a Financial Markets Commission. The bill now goes back to the Senate, which must decide whether to accept the changes made to the bill by the House.

“The only way to get an objective evaluation of where mistakes were made is to create an independent commission of experts to ask what went right, what went wrong and what could we have done to prevent this. We need a forensic audit of the laws of the United States as it relates to the financial markets and our economy,” Isakson said. “I want to thank Senator Conrad who has been diligent in his effort to help pass this legislation. I’m pleased our colleagues in the House understand the importance of making sure we don't miss the mark, that we stay focused, and we get the answers to what caused this financial collapse. It’s what the American people deserve.”

“After seeing their retirement accounts cut in half and the nation's economy teeter on the brink of total collapse, the American people deserve to know what caused our financial system to spiral downward so far so fast. We must hold those responsible for this calamity to account,” Senator Conrad said. “I appreciate the commitment Senator Isakson has shown to unearthing the details of this collapse. The commission the House voted to create today will investigate wrongdoing and help ensure this never happens again.”

The 10-member, bipartisan Financial Markets Commission would be modeled after the 9-11 Commission, which thoroughly and independently investigated the failures leading up to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and made sound recommendations on where we needed to improve to prevent another attack in the future.

Likewise, the Financial Markets Commission would have until December 2010 to investigate all the circumstances that led to this financial crisis. The panel would have the authority to refer to the U.S. Attorney General and state attorneys general any evidence that institutions or individuals may have violated existing laws. At the end of its investigation, the Commission would report its findings and conclusions to the Congress and the President.

This bipartisan Commission would be appointed by Democrats and Republicans in Congress.

The Speaker and Senate Democratic Leader would choose the commission’s chair. The Senate and House Republican Leaders would select the vice-chair. Members of Congress as well as federal and state employees would be prohibited from serving on the Commission.
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