WASHINGTON - The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee approved legislation Wednesday that would require federal agencies to be more transparent in settlements reached with banks and other companies for breaking the law.

The Truth in Settlements Act, introduced by Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Tom Coburn, R-Okla., in January, would mandate that government officials provide greater detail about how settlements are structured, including information about how payments are classified for tax purposes and whether the company will receive tax credits that reduce the full value of the settlement. The legislation passed the panel by voice vote.

"When government agencies reach settlements with companies that break the law, they should disclose the key terms of those deals to the public," Warren said in a press release. "This bill will help shut down backroom deal-making and ensure that Congress, citizens and watchdog groups can hold regulatory agencies accountable for stronger and more effective enforcement of the law."

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