Most Americans would agree that allowing Congressmembers to buy and trade individual stocks based on information they learn while “serving” the people is a bad idea, but efforts to ban the practice are being met with mixed reviews on Capitol Hill, with Republican senators voicing their early concerns.
According to an article in The Hill, representatives in the House seem to be jumping on board with the proposed ban, but some Senate Republicans are worried the proposals either go too far or will be impossible to implement.
“Senate Republicans are also voicing concerns that restricting stock ownership will put the most burden on colleagues with less money and could dissuade otherwise well-qualified candidates from running for office,” The Hill reports.
The call to end what many consider to be tantamount to “insider trading” came after it was revealed that Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband bought around a million dollars worth of Tesla stock mere weeks before President Biden announced that all cars in the federal fleet would be replaced with electric vehicles.
In a December news conference, Pelosi made it clear that she opposed any such ban, stating, “We’re a free market economy. [Lawmakers] should be able to participate in that.”
Days later, the Daily Mail reported that, just 48 hours later, her husband was at it again. In a five-day stock binge, Paul Pelosi purchased between $1.75 and $3.6 million worth of stocks in such companies as Disney, Alphabet, and Salesforce.
Yesterday, however, the Speaker had a stunning change of heart, doing a 180 in her Wednesday press conference and coming out in favor of the ban — as long as all branches of the government are included.
“It has to be government-wide,” she said, noting that the Supreme Court does not disclose stocks.
In order to move legislation to the floor, there are some things Pelosi is going to need.
“There’s a certain criteria that I wanted to see with whatever, whatever design they have for that — that’s one,” she said. “But the other is, we have to tighten the fines on those who violate the STOCK Act. It’s simply not sufficient to deter behavior. And then, the third, it just really has to be government wide.”
So, if even Nancy is on board, why are GOP senators grumbling?
According to The Hill: “There’s also a view among GOP senators that Democrats are giving new prominence to a proposed ban on stock trading in a scramble to find promising political issues to run on in the midterm elections after failing to pass key elements of President Biden’s agenda.”
Other Republicans simply claim that the current laws are good enough.
“Don’t we have full disclosure now?” asked Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS). “[My wife] and I have got to be among the 5 percent lowest net-worth members of the Senate. It seems to me like full disclosure is something that ought to be sufficient.”
Senator Chuck Grassely (R-Iowa) also stated that he was not ready to support the bill as it stands. “Transparency brings accountability,” Grassley told the Hill.
Currently, it seems like there are as many bills to tackle the issue as there are Congressmembers accused of violating the STOCK Act, but it is still unclear if any of them will make it into law.
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) stated any bill would have to be flexible, saying that “figuring out how to make this work without preventing people from serving is the challenge ahead.”
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