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Senate passes bill on insider trading, sends measure to Obama

The Senate on Thursday passed legislation barring lawmakers from using insider information for personal profit, sending the bill to the White House.

The Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act already approved by the House passed the upper chamber easily by a vote of 96-3.

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The Senate action circumvents a thorny amendment sponsored by Sen. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyWhite House open to reforming war powers amid bipartisan push Garland's AG nomination delayed by GOP roadblocks National Sheriffs' Association backs Biden pick for key DOJ role MORE (R-Iowa) requiring political intelligence operatives to regularly report their activity. The Senate adopted the Grassley proposal by a vote of 60-39 in February, but the GOP-controlled House opposed the Grassley's language and did not include it in its version.

Instead of holding a conference between Senate and House negotiators to discuss the differences, Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidNevada looks to shake up presidential primary calendar Biden turns focus to next priority with infrastructure talks How to pass legislation in the Senate without eliminating the filibuster MORE (D-Nev.) opted to take up the House bill.

The Grassley language had created unusual political bedfellows.

House Republican Whip Eric CantorEric Ivan CantorConservative House Republican welcomes Clark as chief of US Chamber Former House GOP leader: Fear of telling 'truth' to voters led to Capitol riot Biden faces tall order in uniting polarized nation MORE (R-Va.) opposed the language and did not include it in the House bill that passed overwhelmingly, 417-2.

Reid and his leadership team, along with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDemocrats near pressure point on nixing filibuster  We need a voting rights workaround Biden takes victory lap after Senate passes coronavirus relief package MORE (R-Ky.), voted against the Grassley amendment in the Senate, but leading Democrats including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) supported it in the House.

Grassley’s language would have dramatically expanded the disclosure of lobbying activities by requiring specialists who glean valuable information from Capitol Hill to register and report their activities after making even one contact to gather political intelligence. Hedge funds and other money managers pay top dollar for the information, which can be used to make lucrative trades.

Grassley voted against final passage of the STOCK Act in the Senate along with GOP Sens. Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrRick Scott caught in middle of opposing GOP factions Bipartisan bill would ban lawmakers from buying, selling stocks Republicans, please save your party MORE (N.C.) and Tom CoburnThomas (Tom) Allen CoburnDemocrats step up hardball tactics in Supreme Court fight COVID response shows a way forward on private gun sale checks Inspector general independence must be a bipartisan priority in 2020 MORE (Okla.).

Supporters of the bill hailed the measure, which they said could restore public confidence in Congress.

“We passed a strong bill with teeth that will clearly and expressly make it illegal for members of Congress, their staff and their families to gain personal profits from nonpublic information gained through their service,” said Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandABC names new deputy political director, weekend White House correspondent The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Lawmakers face Capitol threat as senators line up votes for relief bill The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Senate Dems face unity test; Tanden nomination falls MORE (D-N.Y.), a sponsor of the legislation.

“When President Obama signs the STOCK Act, we will have begun to restore some of the public’s faith in Washington,” she added.

Lawmakers sometimes possess nonpublic information that can be worth millions of dollars if known in advance by a well-connected trader.

Reid said earlier this week that he would skip appointing conferees to negotiate differences between the Senate and House bills. Reid said that unnamed senators would have objected to proceeding to conference and it would have taken too much time to vote them down.

Insider trading surged to the top of the political agenda in recent months after a report by CBS’s “60 Minutes” alleged senior lawmakers had profited from the knowledge they accrued as congressional insiders.

The report raised questions about healthcare stocks House Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerThree ways James Kvaal can lead postsecondary education forward Boehner book jacket teases slams against Cruz, Trump Cruz hits back at Boehner for telling him to 'go f--- yourself' MORE (R-Ohio) bought during the 2010 healthcare reform debate once it became clear that the proposal of a government-run health insurance option would fail.

BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerThree ways James Kvaal can lead postsecondary education forward Boehner book jacket teases slams against Cruz, Trump Cruz hits back at Boehner for telling him to 'go f--- yourself' MORE said he does not personally manage his stock portfolio.

CBS also scrutinized Pelosi’s participation in an initial public stock offering from Visa. She and her husband bought stock in the company while a bill to limit fees charged by credit card companies was pending in the House.

A spokesman for Pelosi at the time dismissed the allegations as “a right-wing smear."