Senate Democratic leaders push Congress to ban stock trading

  • Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has called on Democrats to unite around a plan to impose tougher limits on Congressional stock trading.
  • The push comes after the senses. Jon Ossoff and Mark Kelly introduced the Congressional Stock Trading Ban Act last month.
  • Ossoff and Kelly are part of a new task force, along with Senator Elizabeth Warren and several others.

After weeks of silence, Senate Democratic leaders have asked lawmakers to propose improvements to the rules governing congressional stock trading, Insider has learned.

Work is still in its early stages. But Senate Democratic leaders have taken an interest in the issue amid mounting bipartisan pressure, and they hope to vote on a bill this year if members can agree on reforms to push forward, Insider told four Democratic aides familiar with the deliberations. A fifth person familiar with the developments confirmed the deliberations.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York has asked various members to form a task force so the caucus can coalesce around different proposals, said an outside source who asked not to be named. to speak frankly.

In a call on Friday, Democratic leadership staff briefed Democratic senators’ legislative directors of their aspirations to introduce a bill banning congressional stock trading in the U.S. Senate, Democratic aides confirmed. .

“It’s been a growing crescendo over the past two weeks,” said a Democratic aide who is not authorized to speak officially.

The move in the upper house comes after Insider published ‘Conflicted Congress,’ a five-month investigation that found dozens of lawmakers and at least 182 senior congressional staff failed to meet the law’s reporting requirements. of 2012 on the trade stoppage on knowledge of Congress. , or STOCK Act.

Insider also identified numerous conflict-of-interest issues, as well as a discord between lawmakers’ personal stock dealings and their public responsibilities, such as members who develop tobacco policy but invest in big tobacco and others. which are receiving praise from environmental groups for the crafting. policy aimed at tackling the climate crisis – while investing in fossil fuel companies.

The Senate Democratic task force includes members who have worked on this issue for years as well as some newcomers who have recently introduced bills to restrict or ban stock trading, including Democratic Sens freshmen. Jon Ossoff of Georgia and Mark Kelly of Arizona.

Other members of the task force include Democratic Sens. Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Gary Peters of Michigan.

Warren, a well-known progressive and 2020 presidential candidate, first introduced a sweeping ethics reform bill called the Anti-Corruption and Public Integrity Act in 2018.

Peters chairs the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which had jurisdiction over the STOCK Act of 2012.

A Democratic aide said Democrats hoped the group would be able to work to gain bipartisan support — that the party wanted to go beyond making it a political issue and try to get a bill passed.

Several Republicans have supported tougher limits on stock trading.

“They say they’re for it,” the person said. “Then the hope is that it can create the wedge that’s needed to push something through… Leaders definitely want to push something through on this. There’s a little issue universe that’s bipartisan right now.”

UNITED STATES - JANUARY 22: House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., arrives to speak at the House Democrats' NATO Support Act press conference ahead of its consideration in the House on Tuesday, January 22, 2019. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Steny Hoyer, House Majority Leader, Democrat of Maryland.

Roll Call Bill Clark / CQ

A growing momentum

The push also comes after House Republicans told multiple news outlets they plan to run midterm campaigns in 2022 with promises to deliver on their own upcoming proposal to restrict or ban members. of Congress to trade individual stocks.

A Senate vote on the issue in an election year would help Democrats show they are ready to legislate on an issue that enjoys the support of the vast majority of voters, according to several recent polls.

MPs from both parties have called for reforms in recent weeks, introducing or reintroducing several similar bills. It is unclear whether any specific Senate bill will get a vote.

One possibility is Ossoff and Kelly’s Congressional Stock Trading Ban Act, which has slightly more Senate cosponsors than Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley’s Conflicting Stock Trading Ban Act. from Oregon.

Ossoff and Kelly’s legislation would require all members of Congress, their spouses and dependent children to place their stock portfolios in a blind trust – a financial vehicle independently operated by a trustee and approved by trustees. House or Senate ethics committees.

Republican Senators Josh Hawley of Missouri and Ben Sasse of Nebraska have also introduced their own bills to ban lawmakers from trading stocks.

On the House side, Speaker Nancy Pelosi initially declared her opposition to the banning of members of Congress and their wives from trading stocks, telling Insider during a press conference in December that “we are a market economy” and that members of Congress “should be able to participate in that.”

She has since softened her stance, signaling that she will not halt a ban if supported by her caucus while asking the House Committee on Administration to consider higher penalties for STOCK law violations.

Schumer himself has remained largely silent on the issue in the first weeks of 2022, dodging a question when Insider asked him about a January congressional scholarship ban. He noted that he personally does not own any shares.

Other Democratic leaders, including House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, have resisted the idea of ​​barring federal lawmakers from trading stocks. President Joe Biden has addressed the issue – much to the chagrin of some Democratic congressional candidates – with White House press secretary Jen Psaki saying it’s up to Congress to decide what to do.

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