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Bipartisan bill would ban lawmakers from buying, selling stocks

Bipartisan bill would ban lawmakers from buying, selling stocks
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A bipartisan group of more than a dozen lawmakers on Wednesday introduced a bill banning members of Congress and senior staff from buying and selling stocks, most bonds and options contracts.

Called the Ban Conflicted Trading Act, the measure is intended to prevent lawmakers and high-level staffers from enriching themselves through trades based on potentially market-moving information.

Lawmakers and senior staffers are already banned from making investment decisions based on nonpublic data obtained through their positions by the STOCK Act, a law signed by former President Obama. The practice of insider trading is also illegal under several federal securities laws.

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The new measure, however, intends to hold lawmakers to tighter standards and prevent top congressional officials from making money off their positions even if the moves may not be considered insider trading.

“We need to end the era in which members of Congress buy and see individual stocks for personal gain. This practice is deeply corrupt,” said Sen. Jeff MerkleyJeff MerkleyGreen tech isn't all it's cracked up to be 2024 GOP White House hopefuls lead opposition to Biden Cabinet 33 Democrats urge Biden to shut down Dakota Access Pipeline MORE (D-Ore.), the lead Senate co-sponsor.

Along with Merkley, Democratic Sens. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownA bold fix for US international taxation of corporations Democrats offer competing tax ideas on Biden infrastructure Former Ohio health director won't run for Senate MORE (Ohio) and Raphael WarnockRaphael WarnockGeorgia lawmaker arrested while governor signed election bill won't be prosecuted Democrats see opportunity as states push new voting rules Texas governor refuses to throw first pitch over MLB stance on Georgia MORE (Ga.) introduced the bill in the Senate. Reps. Raja KrishnamoorthiSubramanian (Raja) Raja KrishnamoorthiHillicon Valley: Intel heads to resume threats hearing scrapped under Trump | New small business coalition to urge action on antitrust policy | Amazon backs corporate tax hike to pay for infrastructure House panel investigating YouTube for advertising practices on kids' platform From one 'big house' to another: DOJ must hold the leaders of Purdue Pharma accountable MORE (D-Ill.), Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezNew York City's suicide mission should alarm the entire nation Marjorie Taylor Greene rakes in over .2M in first quarter The strategy Biden needs to pass his infrastructure plan MORE (D-N.Y.), Joe NeguseJoseph (Joe) NeguseGun control advocates applaud Biden funding plan but say more must be done Democrats urge Biden to take executive action on assault-style firearms The Hill's Morning Report - Biden leans heavily into gun control MORE (D-Colo.), Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) Gaetz Ex-Rep. Katie Hill: 'Gross' for Gaetz to invoke my name House panel opens probe into Tom Reed over sexual misconduct allegations House Ethics Committee opens probe into Gaetz MORE (R-Fla.), Michael Cloud (R-Texas.) and 10 additional Democratic lawmakers introduced it in the House.

“Congress must be held accountable to the American people,” Cloud said. “As elected representatives, we each have a constitutional obligation to honor the public trust we have been given. Members of Congress should not be permitted to abuse the role in order to make financial gains.”

The measure would force all members of Congress and staffers to file certain high-level disclosures to sell all stocks, non-Treasury bonds, options contracts and derivatives they own within six months of the bill’s enactment or after taking office. Lawmakers and covered staff can ask to transfer their holdings into a blind trust and can still make investments in most retirement accounts.

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The bill was originally introduced during the previous Congress in 2019, months after former Rep. Chris CollinsChristopher (Chris) Carl CollinsTrump denies Gaetz asked him for blanket pardon Gaetz, on the ropes, finds few friends in GOP Schumer to recommend three Black lawyers to head US attorney offices in NY MORE (R-N.Y.) was indicted for securities fraud related to an Australian pharmaceutical company for which he served as a director. Collins pleaded guilty and began a two-year prison sentence in October 2020 but was pardoned by Trump two months later.

A series of highly scrutinized trades made by lawmakers in the lead-up to the coronavirus pandemic last year also drove more support for limiting how members of Congress could invest.

Sen. Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrNorth Carolina mayor Rett Newton launches Senate bid Democratic hopeful Jeff Jackson raises .3M for North Carolina Senate bid Rick Scott 'very optimistic' Grassley will run for another term MORE (R-N.C.) faced a Justice Department investigation into his sale of up to $1.7 million in stock on Feb. 13 while he was receiving classified briefings as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. The department closed the probe without charging Burr.

Former Republican Sens. Kelly LoefflerKelly LoefflerGeorgia's top election official looks to shake political drama Collins hits Warnock after All-Star Game pulled: 'Thanks for nothing' High anxiety over Trump in Georgia GOP MORE and David PerdueDavid PerdueGeorgia's top election official looks to shake political drama Lobbying world JPMorgan Chase CEO speaks out to defend voting rights in response to Georgia law MORE of Georgia also came under fire for selling millions of dollars in stock, much of it after Senate briefings on the pandemic. While both were eventually cleared by the Senate Ethics Committee, the optics may have played a role in their losses in January runoff elections.