Thursday, April 23, 2009

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

Amendment Creates Bipartisan, Independent Commission

U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Kent Conrad, D-N.D., today praised Senate passage of their amendment to fraud legislation being considered by the Senate that would create a Financial Markets Commission charged with fully investigating the causes of the current financial and economic crisis in the United States. The amendment passed by a vote of 92 to 4.

“When Enron and WorldCom failed at the start of this decade, Congress rushed to legislate and regulate without all the facts. We need to make sure we don’t repeat that reaction as we seek to recover from today’s financial crisis,” Isakson said. “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.”

“The American people – many of whom saw their retirement accounts take significant losses in recent months - demand and 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. “The commission the Senate voted to create today will investigate wrongdoing and help establish rules to help shore up our national economy and ensure this never happens again.”

The 10-member, bipartisan Financial Markets Commission will 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 will have 18 months to investigate all the circumstances that led to this financial crisis. The panel will 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 will report to the Congress its recommendations for statutory or regulatory changes necessary to protect our country from a repeat of this financial collapse.

This bipartisan Commission will include two appointees each by the Speaker of the House and the Senate Democratic Leader as well as one appointee each from the House Republican Leader, the Senate Republican Leader, the Chairman of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, the Ranking Member of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, the Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee and the Ranking Member of the House Financial Services Committee.

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

Isakson and Conrad originally introduced legislation to examine the causes of the current economic crisis in January 2009. Senator Chris Dodd, D-Conn., Chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, is a co-sponsor of the amendment as are Senators Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, and Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I.
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