Next step for STOCK Act looks to be conference committee

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"Pass this bill. Go to conference. It's very important that the House and the Senate meet to discuss these very important issues," added House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on the House floor.

But Cantor on Thursday pointed to the House's lopsided vote in favor of his modified version as proof the Senate should follow suit. Despite grumblings from Democrats about his tweaks, that legislation passed by a vote of 417-2.

Cantor said that strong vote "puts some pressure on the Senate to go ahead and take up our bill."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has not definitively stated what the Senate's next move will be, but a conference committee is the likely next step, according to a Senate Democratic aide.

If a conference committee is established, a key difference between the two bills is the treatment of so-called "political intelligence" firms. Under the original bill, members of the growing industry, in which companies seek out private congressional information to sell to financial firms looking to turn a profit on it, would have to register and disclose their activity like lobbyists.

When the bill hit the Senate floor, the legislation was more tempered, simply requiring a study on the industry. But an amendment offered by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) reinstating that registration was adopted after garnering 60 votes.

Grassley was furious when the reworked version offered by Cantor returned to the study approach. In a statement Wednesday, he said the House GOP move "would fulfill Wall Street's wishes."

Cantor defended the decision Thursday, saying there were still several questions to be answered about the practice before Congress should crack down on it.

"Think of the wording, 'political intelligence.' There's so much question of what that even means," he said. "What is the consequence of that provision? Are there constitutional questions?

"That's why we chose the route that we did in the bill, and that's a study," he added.

Cantor also maintained that because the main goal of the bill is to ensure members of Congress behave ethically and obey the rules, it did not make sense to include provisions targeting non-lawmakers.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) praised Cantor's work on the legislation.

"I think the Majority Leader's done a great job in shepherding this bill through the process, and I look forward to seeing it become law soon," he said.

Cantor has praised the work Slaughter and the other original co-sponsor on the bill, Rep. Tim Walz (D-Minn.), have done on the measure. But Slaughter Thursday remained critical of Cantor's decision to trim the political intelligence provision.

"We've been around long enough to know that when you say you're going to do a study that means you're going to condemn it to death," she said.