By Peter Schroeder - 02/08/12 07:42 PM EST
White House press secretary Jay Carney accused House Republicans of "caving to pressure from Wall Street lobbyists" by removing a provision from upcoming legislation that would require political intelligence firms to be registered as lobbyists.
Carney told reporters that Republicans were simply weakening the legislation.
"I was shocked to see that even this simple bill that would ensure that everyone plays by the rules is weakened," he said. "This should not be a partisan issue."
The office of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) defended the move Wednesday, saying the registration requirement was overbroad and members on both sides of the aisle had expressed concerns about who would be subject to it. Cantor has maintained his version of the bill, which is set for a House vote Thursday, is "strengthened and expanded" and removes "unworkable" provisions.
In particular, Cantor has said he wanted to ensure that the same restrictions being applied to members of Congress under the bill would also apply to members of the executive branch.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) harshly criticized the House version of the bill for not including his amendment requiring the registration of political intelligence firms, which gather private congressional information and sell it to financial firms looking to make profitable trades on it.
"It’s astonishing and extremely disappointing that the House would fulfill Wall Street’s wishes by killing this provision," he said in a statement. "If Congress delays action, the political intelligence industry will stay in the shadows, just the way Wall Street likes it.”
President Obama called on Congress to pass legislation blocking insider trading by lawmakers in his State of the Union address, and lawmakers responded with a standing ovation. "Send me a bill that bans insider trading by members of Congress, and I will sign it tomorrow," he said.
The Senate easily cleared the legislation last week, as it garnered 96 votes.
—Amie Parnes contributed to this story.