The Hill: Congressional stock trading ban must include spouses, lawmakers say

THE HILL, KARL EVERS-HILLSTROM

Any bill to prevent lawmakers from trading stocks must apply to their immediate family members, Reps. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) and Chip Roy (R-Texas), the authors of a stock trading ban proposal, said Friday.

Several stock trading proposals circulating through Congress omit lawmakers’ spouses and dependent children, and Democratic leaders have warmed to the idea of a bill that extends a stock trading ban to senior congressional staffers but not spouses.

Spanberger and Roy, who are pushing a bipartisan stock trading ban with 50 co-sponsors that includes immediate family members, said that they would draw a “line in the sand” over the issue.

“To put forth a stock ban that only applies to members would be, as I would perceive it as an American … kind of a slap in the face to the American people,” Spanberger said during an event hosted by Issue One, the National Taxpayers Union and the Project on Government Oversight.

Good government experts warn that lawmakers cannot restore trust in Congress if they exempt spouses from a stock trading bill. They point to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif), who has come under fire for numerous trades made by her husband, even though Pelosi herself doesn’t trade stocks.

“It would defy logic to say you’re not going to include your immediate family, because I think everybody would see that for what it is,” Roy said.

The Spanberger-Roy bill, one of several proposals, would require all members of Congress and their immediate family to place their stocks into a blind trust. Lawmakers who violate the law would face a fine equal to their entire congressional salary.

Several lawmakers have come under scrutiny for their spouses’ stock trades. House ethics officials are investigating Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) over his wife’s decision to buy stock in a struggling Ohio steelmaker shortly after the Trump administration informed Kelly that it would take action to boost the company’s competitiveness.

Earlier this month, Pelosi said that she would be open to a stock trading ban after previously opposing the effort. She directed Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the House Administration Committee, to get started on a stock trading bill that would include increased transparency around Supreme Court justices’ financial transactions.

Spanberger said Friday that while she is supportive of government-wide reforms, she doesn’t want the bill to have a “poison pill” that would slow down the process. She and Roy called on House leaders to allow a vote on their bill and give members an opportunity to offer amendments.

“Let’s police ourselves first, let’s hold ourselves to the highest standard first, and then we take the next look at who comes next,” Spanberger said.

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