House bill would ban stock trading by members of Congress

Three congressional Democrats on Monday introduced legislation that would bar lawmakers and staff from trading stocks after revelations that numerous senators sold stock after attending a briefing on the threat of novel coronavirus.

“The recent news reports have made it clear that it’s past time to end the potential conflicts of interest created by Members of Congress and their top staffers trading in stocks while making decisions affecting their values and receiving sensitive, nonpublic information through government service,” Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), who co-sponsored the bill, said in a statement.

“Our legislation will prevent members from trading individual stocks and holding positions on corporate boards to help ensure that Congress is working for the American people and not their own stock portfolios,” he added.

“Members of Congress should not be allowed to buy and sell individual stock,” added co-sponsor Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) “We are here to serve the public, not to profiteer.”

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) introduced corresponding legislation in the Senate last year after securities fraud charges against then-Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.), who pleaded guilty and resigned last October.

The bill comes after reports surfaced that Sens. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and James Inhofe (R-Okla.) all sold off stock following a January briefing on the threat of the virus but before the market began its downward plunge. Feinstein and Inhofe have both said they were not present for the briefing, while Burr said that his decision was based on public news reports and asked for a Senate Ethics Committee investigation.

Loeffler, meanwhile, has faced scrutiny after she and her husband, the chairman of the New York Stock Exchange, sold between $1.275 million and $3.1 million in stock between Jan. 24 and Feb. 14.

Loeffler has claimed she made the decision on the advice of financial advisers but Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), a close Trump ally challenging her for her Senate seat, accused her of “profiting off [the] pain” of those who have lost their jobs or retirement to the pandemic.

Tags Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Chris Collins Coronavirus Dianne Feinstein Doug Collins James Inhofe Jeff Merkley Kelly Loeffler Raja Krishnamoorthi Richard Burr
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