Pelosi backs ban on stock trading in Congress
Speaker Pelosi (D-Calif.) has directed House Democrats to draft a bill to ban members of Congress and their senior staffers from trading individual stocks, Punchbowl News reported Wednesday.
Democratic leaders reportedly aim to vote on a stock trading bill by the end of the year, potentially before November’s midterm elections.
Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the House Administration Committee, will work on policy recommendations under the direction of Pelosi and other top Democrats.
Pelosi’s support for a stock trading ban is a reversal from her previous position. The Democratic leader came under fire in December after she said that lawmakers should be able to participate in the “free-market economy.”
During a press conference Wednesday, Pelosi said that lawmakers are looking to find consensus on “government wide” stock trading reforms that also cover the judiciary, including Supreme Court justices, who currently aren’t required to disclose financial transactions.
Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) also got behind a congressional stock trading ban this week, further bolstering its chances.
“I have asked our members to get together to try to come up with one bill,” Schumer told reporters Tuesday. “I would like to see it done.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters Tuesday that he would consider supporting a ban, noting that he doesn’t trade individual stocks.
“I think it prevents such suggestions that you are going to be engaged in insider trading,” McConnell said.
Several bipartisan bills to end the practice of congressional stock trading have already been introduced in the House and Senate.
It’s unclear just how Democratic leaders would attempt to prevent lawmakers from trading individual stocks. Most proposals would require members of Congress to place their assets in a blind trust. Pelosi’s spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The push gained momentum after Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), then-chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, unloaded stocks following a classified briefing detailing the COVID-19 threat at the onset of the pandemic.
Since then, more than 50 lawmakers have been caught violating congressional stock trading rules, according to Business Insider. Pelosi has also come under scrutiny over prolific stock trading by her husband, who runs a real estate and venture capital investment firm.
Lawmakers introduced a deluge of bills to end the practice after a poll from conservative advocacy group Convention of States Action found that 76 percent of voters believe that lawmakers and their spouses have an “unfair advantage” when trading stocks, including 70 percent of Democrats, 78 percent of Republicans and nearly 80 percent of independents.
— Updated 11:58 a.m.