Even seasoned watchers of the Federal Reserve were shocked when the Senate attempted to change an obscure dividend rate paid by the Fed to the banks, which are technically the owners of the Federal Reserve System. This interest rate had been set more than a century ago and never altered, even as the rest of the Federal Reserve System, leadership, mission, and responsibilities have undergone significant changes. One of the many problems with this proposal is that it did not receive consideration from any committee of jurisdiction in Congress. There have been no hearings focused on the issue.  Perhaps worst of all, such would set a dangerous precedent in which changes to the Federal Reserve, including ways in which it conducts monetary policy could be used to fund anything, as in this case it is being used to fund a surface transportation bill.

As former Senate Banking Committee staff, from different sides of the aisle, we have both spent considerable time examining the Federal Reserve. While we have strong differences of opinion on a number of Federal Reserve issues, both of us believe that the Federal Reserve Act could be improved. But we also believe changes to the Fed should result from careful deliberation and be not used as a random piggy bank for the topic de jour.