April 21, 2009

Snowe, Wyden Introduce Bill to Further Safeguard Taxpayer Dollars

Washington, D.C. - Continuing with their efforts to enforce strong protections in the use of taxpayer dollars, U.S. Senators Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) last night introduced bipartisan legislation to provide the Congressional Oversight Panel (COP) with subpoena authority so that it can effectively conduct oversight on behalf of American taxpayers.

"With $700 billion in TARP funds at stake, providing the Congressional Oversight Panel with the tools and resources it requires to conduct effective oversight is absolutely essential," said Senator Snowe, a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee. "We in Congress are duty bound to correct TARP inadequacies but can only do so with reliable information from its overseers. By granting the COP subpoena authority, this legislation will allow this critical watchdog group to obtain the information it needs to safeguard rescue fund dollars."

"The panel needs the tools to make certain that TARP funds are spent more responsibly and more effectively," Senator Wyden said. "Providing subpoena power will give the watchdogs the teeth they will need to protect the public interest."

One of three organizations charged with overseeing the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), the COP is currently required to review the American financial regulatory system and report on Treasury's actions to restore the health of the markets to Congress every 30 days. Despite valiant efforts of the panel to monitor the financial markets and secure information from government agencies, the watchdog group has in certain cases been unable to obtain adequate information to provide effective oversight of the program. The Snowe-Wyden initiative would fix this inequity and grant the COP subpoena authority to ensure the Panel has full access to the information it needs to prevent the abuse of taxpayer dollars.