WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Senate voted on Wednesday to approve a bill to toughen oversight of the $700 billion bank rescue plan.
The bill specifies that Neil Barofsky, inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, has authority to investigate any use of TARP funds he deems questionable.
It also gives him authority to hire auditors and makes funds available for his office.
The TARP itself is overseen by Neel Kashkari, the Treasury’s interim assistant secretary for financial stability. Barofsky is the internal watchdog.
The TARP has been criticized for doing little to unfreeze the credit markets while the pace of foreclosures has sped up.
In a related measure, the House of Representatives approved a measure that would require banks getting TARP money to disclose more about what they’re doing to lend the money out -- a primary goal of the program.
The House measure was adopted as an amendment to an unrelated bill to bail out struggling auto manufacturers. The auto bailout bill also passed. But the prospect that it would pass in the Senate was uncertain.
Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Gary Hill