Growing Support in Congress to Ban Politicians from Trading Stocks

Republican Senator Josh Hawley went on Laura Ingraham’s show yesterday and said it’s time to ban members of Congress from trading stocks:

He has introduced a bill that would prohibit stock trading for all members of Congress and their spouses.

The Banning Insider Trading in Congress Act will:

Prohibit Members of Congress and their spouses from holding, acquiring, or selling stocks or equivalent economic interests during their tenure in elected office. Any holdings in diversified mutual funds, exchange-traded funds, or U.S. Treasury bonds are exempt from the prohibition.

Give Members of Congress and their spouses six months, upon assuming office, to divest any prohibited holdings or place those holdings in a blind trust for the remainder of their tenure in office.

Ensure Members or their spouses forfeit any investment profits to the American people via the U.S. Treasury if they are found to be in violation if the Act. Members who violate the requirements will also lose the ability to deduct the losses of those investments on their income taxes. The ethics committees of Congress may levy additional fines and will publicize violations.

Require that after two years of the Act’s implementation, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) will conduct an audit of Members’ compliance with the Act.

Sounds good to me, but as usual with legislation, the devil is always in the details.

Democratic Senator Jon Osoff has also made a similar demand:

Ossoff and Hawley each have their own competing bills, however. It probably should be expected as they’re from different parties, but this is a matter where there appears to be genuine bipartisan agreement—at least among the American people.

Business Insider has the story:

“Members of Congress should not be playing the stock market while we make federal policy and have extraordinary access to confidential information,” Ossoff said in a press release. Ossoff is teaming up with Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly of Arizona, who said the proposal would “put an end to corrupt insider trading.”

Following reports this week that House Minority leader Kevin McCarthy is interested in curtailing stock-trading by members, Hawley tweeted that it was a “good idea” before telling POLITICO on Tuesday that he was open to co-sponsoring a bill in the works from Ossoff, which would require members to place stock holdings into a blind trust.

But Axios reported on Wednesday that Hawley will be introducing his own bill separate from Ossoff, and that talks had fizzled between the two offices. Hawley and Ossoff are the two youngest members of the US Senate. 

A key difference between the proposals is reportedly that Ossoff’s bill includes dependent children — who may have access to the same privileged information as their lawmaking parent — while Hawley’s does not. The two also differ on the enforcement mechanism.

Violators of Ossoff and Kelly’s bill would be fined the entirety of their congressional salaries. The freshman senator narrowly defeated former Sen. David Perdue last year amid the Georgia Republican’s own stock-trading scandal.

On the other hand, Hawley’s bill would require violators to forfeit any profits gained from stock-trading directly to the US Treasury.

They need to hammer out an agreement because this needs to happen. Personally, I’m in favor of harsher penalties.

Ossoff and Kelly also noted that their bill is broadly similar to the bipartisan TRUST in Congress Act championed by Reps. Abigail Spanberger of Virginia and Chip Roy of Texas, which would require members and their family members to place stock holdings into a blind trust. Another bill, the Ban Conflicted Trading Act, has also garnered the support of House progressives and several Democratic senators.

Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has faced significant criticism — including from several lawmakers in her own party — since rejecting the idea of a ban last month. “We are free-market economy. They should be able to participate in that,” she told Insider.

LOL. Of course. Insider trading is Nancy Pelosi’s middle name.

As McCarthy has expressed interest in the idea, Democratic leaders have been slow to react.

Asked by Insider on Tuesday, both Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Democratic Caucus Chair Rep. Hakeem Jeffries dodged the question of whether they would support a stock-trading ban. “I don’t own any stocks,” said Schumer.

Well then you should have no qualms at all about a stock trading ban for politicians, right Chuck?

As for Jeffries, of course he “dodged” the question–he’s terrified of Pelosi. Every Democrat is. She rules Congress with an iron fist.

All of this follows Insider’s “Conflicted Congress” investigation, which found dozens of lawmakers and 182 senior congressional staffers in violation of the anti-insider trading Stop Trading on Conflicted Knowledge Act. Insider has also identified numerous examples of federal lawmakers trading stocks in industries they oversee as part of their congressional committee assignments, including within the defensehealthcare, and energy industries.

Insider trading is rampant inside Congress. Simply rampant. Out of control. And it’s too hard to ban just insider trading because it’s impossible to tell which trades are legitimate and which trades are crooked. There’s too much gray area and ambiguity.

Which is why it’s best to simply ban all stock trading by members of Congress, period.

The idea of banning members of congress and their spouses from stock trading is also wildly popular, with up to 76% of the public behind it, according to recent polling.

Not surprising.

The way I see it, if you prohibit members of Congress from trading stocks, you eliminate a lot of the incentive for bad people to run for office in the first place. Nancy Pelosi might just retire on the spot if this bill is passed and signed into law.

Get it done. Come to an agreement and ban stock trading by members of Congress.

We need Congress filled with legislators who want to fix this country’s problems, not greedy bastards who are looking to line their pockets.

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