Senate passes bill on insider trading, sends measure to Obama

The Senate on Thursday passed legislation barring lawmakers from using insider information for personal profit, sending the bill to the White House.

The Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act already approved by the House passed the upper chamber easily by a vote of 96-3.

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The Senate action circumvents a thorny amendment sponsored by Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyGOP senators eager for Romney to join them Five hurdles to a big DACA and border deal Grand jury indicts Maryland executive in Uranium One deal: report MORE (R-Iowa) requiring political intelligence operatives to regularly report their activity. The Senate adopted the Grassley proposal by a vote of 60-39 in February, but the GOP-controlled House opposed the Grassley's language and did not include it in its version.

Instead of holding a conference between Senate and House negotiators to discuss the differences, Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidDems search for winning playbook Dems face hard choice for State of the Union response The Memo: Immigration battle tests activists’ muscle MORE (D-Nev.) opted to take up the House bill.

The Grassley language had created unusual political bedfellows.

House Republican Whip Eric CantorEric Ivan CantorEric Cantor: Moore ‘deserves to lose’ If we want to make immigration great again, let's make it bipartisan Top Lobbyists 2017: Hired Guns MORE (R-Va.) opposed the language and did not include it in the House bill that passed overwhelmingly, 417-2.

Reid and his leadership team, along with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSessions: 'We should be like Canada' in how we take in immigrants NSA spying program overcomes key Senate hurdle Overnight Finance: Lawmakers see shutdown odds rising | Trump calls for looser rules for bank loans | Consumer bureau moves to revise payday lending rule | Trump warns China on trade deficit MORE (R-Ky.), voted against the Grassley amendment in the Senate, but leading Democrats including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) supported it in the House.

Grassley’s language would have dramatically expanded the disclosure of lobbying activities by requiring specialists who glean valuable information from Capitol Hill to register and report their activities after making even one contact to gather political intelligence. Hedge funds and other money managers pay top dollar for the information, which can be used to make lucrative trades.

Grassley voted against final passage of the STOCK Act in the Senate along with GOP Sens. Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrNSA spying program overcomes key Senate hurdle Senate Intel chairman: No need for committee to interview Bannon McConnell: Russia probe must stay bipartisan to be credible MORE (N.C.) and Tom CoburnThomas (Tom) Allen CoburnRepublicans in Congress shouldn't try to bring back earmarks Republicans should know reviving earmarks is a political nightmare Former GOP senator: Trump has a personality disorder MORE (Okla.).

Supporters of the bill hailed the measure, which they said could restore public confidence in Congress.

“We passed a strong bill with teeth that will clearly and expressly make it illegal for members of Congress, their staff and their families to gain personal profits from nonpublic information gained through their service,” said Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandTrump thinks he could easily beat Sanders in 2020 match-up: report Listen: EMILY’s List upbeat about Dem House in '19 Desperate Democrats shouldn't settle for Oprah MORE (D-N.Y.), a sponsor of the legislation.

“When President Obama signs the STOCK Act, we will have begun to restore some of the public’s faith in Washington,” she added.

Lawmakers sometimes possess nonpublic information that can be worth millions of dollars if known in advance by a well-connected trader.

Reid said earlier this week that he would skip appointing conferees to negotiate differences between the Senate and House bills. Reid said that unnamed senators would have objected to proceeding to conference and it would have taken too much time to vote them down.

Insider trading surged to the top of the political agenda in recent months after a report by CBS’s “60 Minutes” alleged senior lawmakers had profited from the knowledge they accrued as congressional insiders.

The report raised questions about healthcare stocks House Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerDems face hard choice for State of the Union response Even some conservatives seem open to return to earmarks Overnight Finance: Trump, lawmakers take key step to immigration deal | Trump urges Congress to bring back earmarks | Tax law poised to create windfall for states | Trump to attend Davos | Dimon walks back bitcoin criticism MORE (R-Ohio) bought during the 2010 healthcare reform debate once it became clear that the proposal of a government-run health insurance option would fail.

BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerDems face hard choice for State of the Union response Even some conservatives seem open to return to earmarks Overnight Finance: Trump, lawmakers take key step to immigration deal | Trump urges Congress to bring back earmarks | Tax law poised to create windfall for states | Trump to attend Davos | Dimon walks back bitcoin criticism MORE said he does not personally manage his stock portfolio.

CBS also scrutinized Pelosi’s participation in an initial public stock offering from Visa. She and her husband bought stock in the company while a bill to limit fees charged by credit card companies was pending in the House.

A spokesman for Pelosi at the time dismissed the allegations as “a right-wing smear."