Washington Examiner: Democrat slams Pelosi, ‘failure of House leadership’ over stock trading bill

WASHINGTON EXAMINER, KATE SCANLON, JULIEGRACE BRUFKE

Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA) on Friday criticized Democratic House leadership for not taking up legislation to ban members of Congress from trading stocks.

Spanberger has introduced and advocated legislation that would prevent lawmakers, their spouses, and their dependent children from buying, selling, or trading individual stocks, requiring them to divest from their investments or place them into a blind trust within 90 days of taking office in an attempt to avoid conflicts of interest or members of Congress using the office for financial gain.

Calls for the ban grew after some senators faced scrutiny for trades made at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, as well as other incidents in which members appeared to have insider knowledge.

In a statement, Spanberger said, “Our job as elected officials is to serve the people — not ourselves.”

“That’s why I’ve been proud to lead the charge on legislation to ban Members of Congress and their immediate families from trading individual stocks — not only because it’s the right thing to do, but because the Virginians I represent overwhelmingly support it and want us to get it done,” she said. “Since the early days of the pandemic, I have worked with lawmakers from both parties — and across the ideological spectrum — to earn their support for my bipartisan bill, the TRUST in Congress Act.”

Spanberger said that despite momentum for the measure in both the House and Senate, Democratic leadership has yet to take action on the matter.

Directly criticizing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Spanberger said, “After first signaling her opposition to these reforms, the Speaker purportedly reversed her position. However, our bipartisan reform coalition was then subjected to repeated delay tactics, hand-waving gestures, and blatant instances of Lucy pulling the football.”

Spanberger argued that “this moment marks a failure of House leadership — and it’s yet another example of why I believe that the Democratic Party needs new leaders in the halls of Capitol Hill.”

“Rather than bring Members of Congress together who are passionate about this issue, leadership chose to ignore these voices, push them aside, and look for new ways they could string the media and the public along — and evade public criticism,” she added.

House Democrats this week unveiled a comparable but wider-ranging bill that would also extend to judges, including Supreme Court justices.

“As part of their diversionary tactics, the House Administration Committee was tasked with creating a new piece of legislation — and they ultimately introduced a kitchen-sink package that they knew would immediately crash upon arrival, with only days remaining before the end of the legislative session and no time to fix it,” Spanberger said.

The Virginia Democrat argued it is “apparent that House leadership does not have its heart in this effort, because the package released earlier this week was designed to fail.”

“It was written to create confusion surrounding reform efforts and complicate a straightforward reform priority — banning Members of Congress from buying and selling individual stocks — all while creating the appearance that House Leadership wanted to take action,” she said. “In the months ahead, I will be dogged in my efforts to ban Members of Congress from using the privilege of their position to profit. I look forward to working with both my Democratic and Republican colleagues to get these reforms done.”

Pelosi pushed back on Friday, arguing that Spanberger’s bill is in the wider legislation and said leadership is still seeking the necessary votes to pass it.

“First of all, her bill is contained in this bill,” Pelosi said. “Other members had ideas to improve upon the bill.”

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