Bipartisan bill would ban lawmakers from buying, selling stocks

Bipartisan bill would ban lawmakers from buying, selling stocks
© Getty Images

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.

ADVERTISEMENT

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 MerkleyDemocrats calls on Biden administration to ease entry to US for at-risk Afghans Manchin, Sinema join GOP to sink filibuster change for voting bill Senate GOP blocks election bill, setting up filibuster face-off MORE (D-Ore.), the lead Senate co-sponsor.

Along with Merkley, Democratic Sens. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownDemocrats see good chance of Garland prosecuting Trump On the Money — Student borrowers stare down rising prices Biden selects Sarah Bloom Raskin, two others for Fed board MORE (Ohio) and Raphael WarnockRaphael WarnockPerdue proposes election police force in Georgia Kelly takes under-the-radar approach in Arizona Senate race Overnight Energy & Environment — Lummis holds up Biden EPA picks MORE (Ga.) introduced the bill in the Senate. Reps. Raja KrishnamoorthiSubramanian (Raja) Raja KrishnamoorthiEquilibrium/Sustainability — Fire calls infrastructural integrity into question FDA must address endocrine-disrupting phthalates: House Oversight In their own words: Lawmakers, staffers remember Jan. 6 insurrection MORE (D-Ill.), Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezMissouri House Democrat becomes latest to test positive for COVID-19 Louisiana Rep. Troy Carter announces positive COVID-19 test Joining Pelosi, Hoyer says lawmakers should be free to trade stocks MORE (D-N.Y.), Joe NeguseJoseph (Joe) NeguseCO lawmakers ask DOJ to investigate police's knowledge about alleged shooter Biden addresses Coloradans after wildfires: 'Incredible courage and resolve' Overnight Energy & Environment — Virginia gears up for fight on Trump-era official MORE (D-Colo.), Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) GaetzGallego on Jan. 6 rioters: 'F--- them' The Hill's Morning Report - For Biden, it goes from bad to worse Gaetz ex testified to federal grand jury in sex crimes investigation 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.

The bill was originally introduced during the previous Congress in 2019, months after former Rep. Chris CollinsChristopher (Chris) Carl CollinsBiden taps Damian Williams as US attorney for Manhattan New York lt. gov. says she is 'prepared to lead' following Cuomo resignation Outrage grows as Justice seeks to contain subpoena fallout 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 BurrPelosi says she's open to stock trading ban for Congress Momentum builds to prohibit lawmakers from trading stocks Public health expert: Biden administration needs to have agencies on the 'same page' about COVID 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 LoefflerEleven interesting races to watch in 2022 Democrats' selective hearing on law and order issues puts everyone at risk Pelosi faces pushback over stock trade defense MORE and David PerdueDavid PerduePerdue proposes election police force in Georgia Kemp campaign alleges Perdue team illegally coordinating with new fundraising committee Abrams treads carefully in relationship with Biden 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.