NEWSNATION, JOE KHALIL
A bipartisan duo of House lawmakers is pushing legislation to ban members of Congress from trading stocks while in office.
At the heart of the issue: Senators and representatives regularly get classified briefings about subjects that impact the markets and they’re able to use that information, which the rest of the public doesn’t have, to buy, sell, trade and profit.
Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger, of Virginia, is expected to publish a letter Friday demanding the issue gets a public hearing.
Spanberger and Republican Rep. Chip Roy, of Texas, a co-sponsor of the bill, both said it’s fundamentally unfair and should be criminalized.
“We are long overdue for a vote on legislation to ban Members of Congress and their spouses from trading individual stocks,” Spanberger said in a statement.
The legislation would require members of Congress, their spouses and their dependent children to put certain investment assets into a qualified blind trust while the member is in office.
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This isn’t a new issue, lawmakers trading stocks have been the subject of increasing scrutiny for many years.
However, it was thrust into the public eye much more clearly around the coronavirus pandemic.
NewsNation spoke with some members of Congress who said they were disgusted watching their fellow lawmakers buy up stock in pharmaceutical companies, companies that make work-at-home software, cleaning supplies and products, just before the pandemic hit.
Several members of Congress were scrutinized for their financial transactions during the early days of the pandemic when members of Congress received closed-door briefings that warned of an impending financial crash.
This issue includes both Democrats and Republicans; about 20% of Congress currently owns and trades stock.
Meanwhile, this isn’t the first time there has been an attempt to address this issue. Previously, Congress passed the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act, or the STOCK Act, to curtail congressional insider trading. The act quickly became unenforceable. The Stock Act had no teeth due to the Constitution’s “speech and debate” clause, which provides members of Congress with immunity from civil and criminal legal action based on the performance of legislative duties.