A bipartisan group of more than two dozen lawmakers in the House is demanding that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) allow a vote on a bill that would bar members of Congress from trading on the stock market, which critics say is inappropriate due to Congress’ inside knowledge on financial and political affairs.
The demand was made in a Jan. 24 letter spearheaded by Rep. Jared Golden (D-Maine). A total of 27 lawmakers signed Golden’s petition, including 25 Democrats and two Republicans.
In the letter’s opening line, the coalition demands that Pelosi “swiftly bring legislation to prohibit members of Congress from owning or trading stocks.” Two bills that would do just that, the “Ban Conflicted Trading Act” and the “TRUST In Congress Act,” have been sitting in congressional limbo.
The responsibility to bring them out of this limbo lies largely with Speaker Pelosi, but she has thus far made no effort to bring either bill to the floor for a vote.
Golden argued that such a ban would be a “common sense measure” that is “supported by Americans across the political spectrum.”
A recent poll vindicates this latter claim.
The poll, conducted by the conservative group Convention for States Action in conjunction with Trafalgar, found that more than three-fourths of Americans believe that lawmakers have an “unfair advantage” over others in the stock market.
Speaking on the poll results, Mark Meckler, president of Convention of States Action, said, “Congress has a history of passing laws that make it appear as if they are behaving ethically, while continuing to do things that are not honest nor ethical. This issue has received a lot of attention, and this data verifies the American people want this practice to end once and for all.”
This issue has a storied history in Congress.
In 2012, Congress passed the STOCK Act, a bill that required members of Congress to publicly disclose their financial transactions. However, a recent investigation by Insider found that a laundry list of lawmakers in both the House and Senate had violated the provisions of that law.
In view of this, the lawmakers write, “It’s clear the current rules are not working.”
In another recent example of potential insider trading, several members of Congress allegedly sold off stock ahead of the crash precipitated by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus. These members had received nonpublic briefings on the developing virus, leading many to believe that their sudden stock sales were carried out on the basis of this knowledge.
“The law prohibits only those stock trades that members of Congress make or direct because of their nonpublic knowledge,” Golden explains in his letter.
“But it can be nearly impossible to determine what counts as ‘nonpublic knowledge’ or how personally involved members are in their stock trades.”
“Instead,” the lawmakers demand, “Congress should close these loopholes by simply banning members from owning or trading individual stocks while in office.”
“We came to Congress to serve our country, not turn a quick buck,” the lawmakers continue.
“While there are many difficult questions facing Congress, this is an easy one,” the letter concludes. “Members of Congress should not be allowed to own or trade individual stocks. Let’s get this done.”
The letter is a rare show of bipartisanship, including a very unlikely alliance of America First conservatives and left-wing progressives.
By Joseph Lord