Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) announced today that they plan to reintroduce a bill (S. 3698 – Accountability for Economic Assistance Act) which would “force companies receiving financial lifelines from the federal government to publicly report how they spend taxpayer dollars” according to an official press release.
This would focus on promoting some transparency as to how money is being spent by companies who utilize funds from the $700 billion economic rescue package. The AP reported yesterday that numerous large banks said they were either unable to track how the money was being spent or did not wish to discuss it.
The Associated Press has more on today’s announcement:
Under legislation proposed by Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, firms receiving federal rescue money would be required to report their spending to the Treasury Department every three months. And it would prohibit them from spending the taxpayer dollars on lobbying or political contributions.
The Senate did not take up the legislation this year, and the sponsors have long said they plan to pursue it when the 111th Congress convenes Jan. 6.
They announced a “reintroduction” of it on Tuesday — a day after The Associated Press reported that the nation’s largest banks say they can’t track exactly how they’re spending the money or simply refuse to discuss it.
“At present, we don’t know whether these companies are using these funds to fly on private jets, attend lavish conferences or lobby Congress,” Feinstein said in a statement.
Snowe said the bill would ensure that taxpayer money would only be used for the intended purposes: to shore up the nation’s financial institutions and other firms during a wide-reaching economic recession.
And here are some general provisions expected to remain in the new bill next year, taken from the press release:
- Prohibit firms receiving economic assistance from Treasury or emergency loans from the Federal Reserve from using such funds for lobbying expenditures or political contributions;
- Require that firms receiving assistance provide detailed, publically [sic] available quarterly reports to Treasury outlining how federal funds have been used;
- Establish corporate governance standards to ensure that firms receiving federal assistance do not waste money on unnecessary expenditures; and
- Create penalties of at least $100,000 per violation for firms that fail to meet the corporate governance standards established in the bill.
Senators Norm Coleman (R-MN), Joseph Lieberman (ID-CT), Patty Murray (D-WA), John Kerry (D-MA) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) are co-sponsors of the bill.