WASHINGTON - House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi wants to create a special panel to investigate the causes of the Wall Street meltdown that helped put the country into a severe economic recession, a spokesman said on Thursday.
The investigative panel, according to Pelosi spokesman Nadeam Elshami, would be modeled after the Pecora Commission, a Depression-era U.S. Senate panel that investigated the causes of the 1929 Wall Street crash.
She is supportive of a Pecora-like commission, Elshami said, adding that Pelosi wants to first discuss the idea with fellow lawmakers when they return on Monday from a two-week recess.
The Pecora Commission, which was created in 1932 by the Senate, is credited with sparking major reforms in the U.S. financial system more than 70 years ago, including the creation of the Securities and Exchange Commission.
More recently, the SEC has been blamed for lax oversight of financial industry practices.
The failure of several large Wall Street institutions prompted Congress last year to pass a $700 billion financial bailout that is hugely unpopular among voters. The economy has shed about 5 million jobs since December 2007 in the midst of a recession that has seen the jobless rate hit 8.5 percent.
Elshami said Pelosi discussed the idea of the special panel on Wednesday with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and asked him if he had any suggestions. Elshami provided no further details of the conversation and Treasury Department spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Pelosi's aide said many of the details still have to be worked out if the panel is created, including who would lead it and its deadline for making recommendations.
Existing congressional panels, including the House Financial Services Committee, have held some hearings into the failure of Wall Street icon Bear Stearns, the bailout of insurance giant AIG and severe difficulties facing domestic automakers.
The Obama administration and congressional committees are also pursuing legislation to tighten regulation of the financial system in the wake of the meltdown.
But a special panel would have the resources to focus exclusively on the events leading up to the most severe problems on Wall Street since the 1930s.
Other lawmakers, including Representative Darrell Issa of California, the senior Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, also have called for creating a special panel to look into the financial crisis.