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Any time anything passes in the Senate by a vote of 96–0 I’m suspicious. Those numbers are usually reserved for meaningless proclamations declaring ‘National Be Kind to Puppies and Kitties Day.’ But such a vote took place yesterday on Sen. Bernie Sanders’ amendment to audit the Federal Reserve.

Sanders’ original amendment would have required the Fed to submit to regular audits, but the watered-down version passed yesterday is for a one-time audit with a specific scope and time frame. This only adds to my suspicion that the newer version is more than likely toothless:

“A Fed spokeswoman declined to comment on the Senate action, but Fed leaders, who previously have objected to broader efforts to review monetary policy, have not opposed the most recent version of Sanders’s proposal.”

A more accurate gauge of where the Senate stands on REAL financial reform can be found in other amendments taken up yesterday, like the one proposed by David Vitter which called for the stronger provisions contained in Sanders’ original proposal. It was voted down 62 to 37 with only 6 Democrats voting “Yea”—Cantwell, Dorgan, Feingold, Lincoln, Webb, and Wyden.

Another amendment, proposed by Sen. McCain, called for a time frame for winding down and eventually ending the government’s conservatorship of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. That failed by a vote of 56 to 43 with only 2 Democrats–Bayh and Feingold–voting “Yea.” An alternative to the McCain amendment, proposed by Chris Dodd, called for “the Secretary of the Treasury to conduct a study on ending the conservatorship of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.” That passed by a margin of 63–36. Russ Feingold (I detect a pattern here) was the lone Democrat voting “Nay.”

Credit where credit is due, Sen. Shelby is right on the money (so to speak):

“Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae were at the heart of the financial crisis,” Shelby said Tuesday. “How we can have basic regulatory reform, financial reform, if we’re not going to include Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac?”

Also set for a vote this week is Sen. Lincoln’s amendment which would place strong restrictions on derivative trading. Needless to say, Wall Street is going all out to kill this:

“…the five [largest] banks together have mustered more than 130 registered lobbyists, including 40 former Senate staff members and one retired senator, Trent Lott. The list includes former staff members for the Senate majority and minority leaders, the chairmen and ranking members of the banking and finance committees, and more than 15 other senators. In the first quarter, the banks spent $6.1 million on lobbying.”

Why are the banksters fighting so hard to stop it? Follow the money:

“The change could cost the industry a lot of money. Banks reported $22.6 billion in derivatives revenue in 2009..”