All of a sudden, Congress is paying close attention to Ron Paul.
The feisty congressman from Texas, whose insurgent "Ron Paul Revolution" presidential campaign rankled Republican leaders last year, now has the GOP House leadership on his side – backing a measure that generated paltry support when he first introduced it 26 years ago.
Paul, as of Tuesday, has won 245 co-sponsors to a bill that would require a full-fledged audit of the Federal Reserve by the end of 2010.
Paul attracted just 18 co-sponsors when he authored a similar bill, which died, in 1983. While the impact Fed policies have on inflation is once again a concern, fears about loose monetary policy and excessive federal spending appear even more widespread in 2009.
"In the past, I never got much support, but I think it's the financial crisis obviously that's drawing so much attention to it, and people want to know more about the Federal Reserve," Paul told FOXNews.com.
With the Federal Reserve holding interest rates at rock-bottom levels, pumping trillions into the economy and now poised to have new powers to oversee the financial system under President Obama's proposed regulatory overhaul, Paul said lawmakers want transparency.
"If they give them a lot more power and there's no more transparency, that'll be a disaster," he said.
The bill would call for the comptroller general in the Government Accountability Office to audit the Fed and report those findings to Congress. The GAO's ability to conduct such audits now is severely restricted.
A slew of top Republicans are backing the bill, as are many Democrats.
"Ron Paul has the right idea on this," said Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., who supports similar legislation in the Senate. "I'm just hoping we can get a clear audit. ... We need to know what they're up to."
House Republican Leader John Boehner, who signed on as a co-sponsor this month, wrote in a recent blog post that the "lack of transparency and accountability" regarding federal dollars committed by the Fed and Treasury Department raise "serious concerns" and make an audit critical.
"The Federal Reserve Transparency Act would remove all of these restrictions, and allow GAO to get real answers from the Federal Reserve to protect American taxpayers," Boehner wrote.