The STOCK Act "has everything to do with politics today rather than the long-term interests of the country," said Coburn from the Senate floor on Tuesday. "I stand in opposition of this bill not because I think we should have insider trading but because I'm trying to fix the real problem and you are fixing symptoms."
Coburn and Sen. Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrDemocratic incumbents bolster fundraising advantage in key Senate races McConnell gets GOP wake-up call Senate approves short-term debt ceiling increase MORE (R-N.C.) were the only two members of the Senate to vote to stop the STOCK Act on Monday.
The STOCK Act is a bipartisan bill that would reaffirm that it is illegal for members of Congress and their staff to make investments and trades based on non-public information and tighten reporting requirements.
In a fiery speech from the floor Coburn suggested that the Senate was in fact further corroding the people's trust in Congress by wasting a week on legislation that hardly changes existing law. Coburn said the real betrayal of public trust comes from the sort of earmarks and swaps that happen regularly as a part of the legislative process in Washington.
"The reason the confidence isn't there has nothing to with the insider-trading that we normally think about," said Coburn
"The American people see the behavior of the Congress doing things that are politically expedient rather than what was is in the best long-term interest of our country," he continued, citing the so-called "Cornhusker Kickback" and "Florida GatorAID" deals that allowed President Obama's healthcare legislation to squeak by the Senate in 2009. "That's the real insider-trading scandal."
Coburn suggested the Senate was wasting time with the act and expressed confidence that none of his colleagues are involved in insider trading.
"Nobody in this chamber can name somebody right now who is trading on insider information, yet we are changing the law not because someone has done something wrong but because we are struggling to get people to think we are doing things right," said Coburn. "I don't think we have a bunch of cheats working in the Senate."
He also offered a substitute amendment that would require every member of the Senate and high-paid staff to sign a document that certifies they are not involved in insider trading.
Floor manager for the bill, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), however, said he would not support Coburn's amendment because it was missing many elements that are in the STOCK Act.
“I don’t think it accomplishes what most members intended with this bill,” said Lieberman.