House to move on insider-trading ban by end of February

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Efforts to explicitly prohibit lawmakers and their staff from enriching themselves based on private information obtained while serving in Congress have received bipartisan support in recent months. The push came primarily after a "60 Minutes" report suggested that several top members from both parties had made financial trades or decisions that reaped financial benefits and seemed to be made based on insider knowledge.

While lawmakers are not exempt from existing insider trading laws, no member or a staff member has ever been prosecuted for violating them by taking advantage of inside political grist. With the public opinion of Congress at historic lows, some members have been eager to get a law on the books expressly prohibiting the practice.

Next week, the Senate is planning to take up a bill introduced by Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Scott Brown (R-Mass.). Similar legislation was being fast-tracked in the House by Financial Services Committee Chairman Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.), who was among those singled out in the CBS report. However, progress on the bill was slowed after House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said it needed to be considered more fully.

Cantor's office reiterated his commitment to the legislation Thursday.

"Leader Cantor plans to move an expanded version of the STOCK Act through the House to make it clear that those in Congress are subject to the same laws as everyone else," said a Cantor aide. "He strongly supports increased disclosure to prevent any sense of impropriety and ensure the public’s confidence and trust in our elected officials.”