“It certainly would have been my preference to work out these differences between the two houses through a conference committee, and I know that’s the preference of the Republican leader,” he said. “That’s the usual practice. But we’ve been advised that there would be objection to going to conference by consent.
“I tried it and tried, but we can’t break through that. We need to address this issue more quickly. Because otherwise we don’t address it at all.”
The STOCK Act, which passed both chambers earlier this year after weeks of wrangling, would make clear that it is illegal for members of Congress and their staff to make investments and trades based on non-public information and tighten reporting requirements.
House Democrats and senators in both parties had pushed to establish a conference committee to settle differences between the two bills. In particular, they were keen to try to restore two measures that were added to the bill as amendments by the Senate but trimmed by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) before it was brought up on the House floor.
One measure, originally offered by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), would have made it easier for prosecutors to pursue public corruption cases. And a second one proposed by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) would have required “political intelligence” firms, which seek out private information to sell to investors, to register in a fashion similar to lobbyists.
The latter provison proved particularly contentious in the House, as the original sponsors of the legislation, Reps. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.), and Tim Walz (D-Minn.) took Cantor to task for trimming it. Even Grassley engaged in some intra-party sniping, saying Cantor’s changes “would fulfill Wall Street’s wishes.”
Cantor defended the move, arguing that the bill produced by the Senate included some problematic and overbroad provisions.
Leahy and Grassley sent a letter to Reid and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) on Monday, requesting a conference committee on the bill, or at least the opportunity to re-introduce their amendments as the Senate considers the House bill.