Banking/Financial Institutions

STOCK Act sponsors say Cantor ‘snatched away’ their bill

The two lawmakers were the original backers of the long-ignored legislation, which exploded in popularity after a “60 Minutes” piece suggested some high-ranking members might have been making financial moves based on private information. Walz and Slaughter said Republican leaders have taken control of the bill and are not seeking their input.

“Republican leadership have returned to form. They have not said a word to us,” said Slaughter.

Cantor announced that the House will vote Thursday on the STOCK Act, and suggested amendments to the version previously passed by the Senate would be unveiled Tuesday evening. He also suggested that some language in the Senate bill might have been “contradictory” when it comes to applying similar restrictions on the use of private information to other federal employees and might need to be addressed.

The Democratic lawmakers accused Cantor of secretly trying to weaken the bill, despite his repeated statements that his goal is to take the version passed by the Senate and strengthen it. He has also maintained that the version pushed by Walz and Slaughter does not go far enough.

“I think strengthening here is a euphemism for weakening,” said Slaughter.

In particular, she said she was concerned about the survival of provisions cracking down on “political intelligence” firms, which seek private congressional information for the benefit of outside clients.

She also pushed back against a broad inclusion of any major new ethics provisions in the legislation. When a similar bill was being considered by the Senate, senators offered up a wide variety of amendments covering a range of ethical issues, such as a permanent ban on earmarks.

“I think it dilutes the bill,” she said. “Somebody else’s bill can do that.”

Walz also defended their legislation as is, but said he was more than open to future ethical overhauls.

“I wish they would devote the rest of the year to working these ethics issues,” he said.

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