House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.)

President Obama and Democrats on Capitol Hill have recently seized on popular legislation that would ban insider trading by members of Congress. 

Obama mentioned it in his State of the Union address last week, and again over the weekend. On Monday, the Democratic-led Senate debated and advanced the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act. The pressure is now on the Republican-controlled House to do likewise. 

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Late last year, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) effectively halted Financial Services Committee Chairman Spencer Bachus’s (R-Ala.) plans to move the measure through his panel. 

The House version has strong bipartisan support, attracting 250 supporters.

Pressed on the bill during a “60 Minutes” interview, Cantor said he wants to broaden the legislation. 

“We’re gonna build on the STOCK Act and bring forward a measure that actually deals with all of it so we can take care of any suggestion that a member of Congress somehow uses his or her official position to affect their own personal enrichment,” he said.

Cantor suggested that the new bill would also prevent insider real estate deals. The measure, however, has not yet been released.

In coming days and weeks, Democrats are expected to intensify demands for the STOCK Act. They will also closely scrutinize the GOP’s revamped legislation to assess whether it weakens the bill crafted by Reps. Tim Walz (D-Minn.) and Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.).

The Walz-Slaughter bill was referred to six committees of jurisdiction. The chairmen of those panels have opted not to co-sponsor the legislation. 

And even though Bachus wanted to move forward with a markup, a majority of Republicans on his panel have not formally backed the measure.

This newspaper takes no view on whether the bill should be passed or rejected. But it is clearly popular, and Democrats could use it as a political weapon this election year if Cantor does not get specific soon.