HENRICO CITIZEN, TOM LAPPAS
U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger (a Democrat who represents Virginia’s 7th District) blasted her party’s U.S. House of Representatives leadership Friday, after it failed to advance her proposal or any others that would ban members of Congress, their spouses and their dependent children from trading individual stocks.
For months, Spanberger has been lobbying for passage of a measure that would enact such a ban. In February, her TRUST in Congress Act (co-sponsored by Republican Chip Roy of Texas), which would have enacted such a ban, appeared to be gaining bipartisan momentum. And earlier this month, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) indicated that a compromise bill would be forthcoming.
But the legislation that ultimately came from the House Administration Committee was, Spanberger suggested, a watered-down version “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.” That nine-member committee is led by Democrat Zoe Lofgren of California and includes five other Democrats and three Republicans.
In her statement Friday morning, Spanberger criticized House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, without using Pelosi’s name.
“For months, momentum grew in both the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate to finally take a step towards prohibiting members of Congress from day trading while on the job,” she said. “We saw remarkable progress towards rectifying glaring examples of conflicts of interest. And 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.
“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, as I have long made known. 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.”
A recent New York Times investigation found that almost 20% of all members of Congress had made trades of stocks while serving that could have presented conflicts of interest.
The House Administration Committee’s proposal “was designed to fail,” Spanberger said. “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.”
Spanberger vowed that she would continue working with members of both parties in pursuit of the stock-sale ban she seeks.