GOP lawmaker: House leaders ‘petty’ to block insider trading bill

A Republican lawmaker blasted his party’s leaders as “petty” Thursday for blocking a proposal to prevent insider trading by members of Congress.

House Financial Services Chairman Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) had scheduled a markup on the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act for next week, but Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) stepped in Wednesday to kill that plan.

Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.), an early sponsor of the proposal, said Cantor's move is "absolutely unacceptable" and suggested his own leadership is being "petty."

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"This is a bipartisan bill," Jones said at a press briefing in the Capitol. "The leadership of the House has seen the problem, the American people have seen the problem, and we've got a way to fix the problem.

"The public's respect and confidence in Congress is less than 10 percent," Jones added. "And I believe sincerely, that if the public saw how petty some — not all, but some — [are] around this House of Representatives, they would be disgusted."

Jones said he'll welcome improvements to the bill, but warned that the existing bill, sponsored by Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) and Tim Walz (D-Minn.), must remain the base legislation. 

"If they [Republican leaders] put a bill in that's not [HR] 1148, then I will be extremely disappointed in the leadership," Jones said. 

Fueling the critics' outrage, the proposal has been endorsed by 218 lawmakers — a majority of the lower chamber — including more than 70 Republicans.

Slaughter on Thursday sent a letter to Cantor, noting the 218 figure and warning that a failure to pass the bill this year "will only serve to further erode the public trust."

After wallowing in Congress for six years without much attention, the STOCK Act has quickly gained steam since a “60 Minutes” report last month raised questions about trading practices by several top lawmakers, including Bachus, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

Cantor on Wednesday threw cold water on that plan, saying House leaders need more time to examine the proposal — an argument the bill’s supporters rejected outright. 

"This bill has been available for six years," Slaughter said. "That should have been plenty of time to take a look at it."