) -- The Senate Banking Committee is reportedly investigating the decision by Standard & Poor's last week to downgrade the credit rating of the United States to AA+ from AAA.

Citing an undisclosed committee aide,


said the panel is in the process of gathering information about the downgrade but that it had not decided whether hearings will be held to examine the decision.


said the committee aide maintained that all options would be weighed with regard to the downgrade, which has been sharply criticized by the Obama administration.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner called the downgrade "the exact wrong decision" in a televised interview on Monday, and President Barack Obama gave a speech that took a dim view of the decision. Obama repeatedly referred to S&P as "some ratings agency" in his speech.

Standard & Poor's is a unit of



, whose shares fell almost 9% to $38.12 in Monday's volatile regular session as the major U.S. equity indices all fell more than 5%, bonds and gold rallied, and oil prices tumbled.

S&P and the White House went back-and-forth about the downgrade on Friday with the ratings agency admitting to making a mistake in its initial analysis of the federal government's fiscal situation but still going ahead and issuing the downgrade, the first ever of U.S. debt.

S&P said its decision was based on the political difficulties that Congress and White House had in reaching a deal to lift the debt ceiling and reduce the deficit last week as well as the inadequacy of the deficit-reduction plans.


Written by Michael Baron in New York.

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