Democrats ready to put a wrap on dragged-out talks
Warren reintroduces bill to bar lawmakers from trading stocks
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) announced Friday she's reintroducing a bill to prohibit lawmakers from trading stocks as Democrats look to make the issue a key aspect of Georgia's two Senate runoffs.
The reintroduction of the bill by Warren and Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) coincides with scrutiny Georgia Sens. Kelly Loeffler (R) and David Perdue (R) are facing over their own stock trading during the pandemic.
Democrats have accused the two senators, who are locked in competitive runoffs to keep their seats, of using private information gleaned from congressional briefings to buy and sell stocks during the pandemic.
Loeffler and Perdue have both denied any wrongdoing, and federal officials have not found sufficient evidence to bring any charges, but Democrats are hoping to use the issue to flip both Senate seats and hand them a majority in the upper chamber come January.
Democrat the Rev. Raphael Warnock is challenging Loeffler, while Jon Ossoff is challenging Perdue. If both Democrats win, the party will hold a 50-50 Senate majority, with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris being able to cast tiebreaking votes.
Warren's proposal is part of a wider anti-corruption effort she is pushing that would include a lifetime ban on lobbying for former members of Congress. It also would forbid lobbyists from fundraising for political candidates.
"After nearly four years of the most corrupt president in American history and with U.S. senators brazenly trading stocks to profit off a raging pandemic, the Anti-Corruption and Public Integrity Act is more urgent than ever in order to rein in corruption, strengthen ethics, end lobbying as we know it, improve the integrity of our judiciary, reform campaign finance laws and finally ensure that we put people over profits and communities over corporations," Warren and Jayapal said in a joint statement.
Members of Congress are legally allowed to buy and sell individual stocks with few restrictions, though many often use tools such as blind trusts to avoid the perception of conflicts of interest. Stock trades by Loeffler, Perdue and others have raised eyebrows given the inside knowledge they have and the economic downturn that's been fueled by the coronavirus outbreak, causing watchdog groups to call for sweeping ethics changes on Capitol Hill.