"The only way to get an objective evaluation of where mistakes were made is to create an independent commission of experts to ask what went right, what went wrong and what could we have done to prevent this," said Republican Senator Johnny Isakson, the measure's lead sponsor.
Lawmakers voted 92-4 in favor of Isakson's amendment to broaden legislation on financial fraud that is expected to clear the Senate this week, though it would require a companion bill to pass the House before it could become law.
The new committee would have 18 months to investigate the causes of what some call the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s and report back recommendations to prevent such collapses in the future.
The panel would have the power to refer to the US Attorney General and state attorneys general any evidence that institutions or individuals may have violated existing laws.
Isakson said the committee, grouping financial experts appointed by key lawmakers from both major US parties and both chamber of the US Congress, was modeled on the commission that investigated the September 11 strikes and made recommendations to thwart future attacks.
But lawmakers, as well as federal or state government employees, would be barred from serving on the panel.