WASHINGTON — Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke defended the central bank's actions during tense negotiations with Bank of America Corp. over the acquisition of Merrill Lynch, but faced open hostility and skepticism from federal lawmakers who questioned the central bank's actions.

Ignoring the deferential tone usually reserved for Fed chairmen, lawmakers on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform repeatedly interrupted Bernanke and grilled him on internal Fed emails subpoenaed by the committee and projected on a screen in the hearing room.

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