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(Video Credit: The Hill)
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has reversed her stance on banning congressional stock trades after mounting pressure from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and progressives who claim the public is demanding that the practice be stopped.
“The people at home watching have made it too difficult to ignore,” Ocasio-Cortez declared on Thursday. She then pointed out that Congress needs to “stick the landing without any funny business” on new legislation.
She made her comments during a news conference on Thursday with Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH), as well as Reps. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) and Joe Neguse (D-CO) according to Fox Business.
The Ban Conflicted Trading Act would prohibit members of Congress and senior staff from purchasing and selling individual stocks. They would also be blocked from serving on a board for any for-profit entity.
It’s pretty simple: when Members — or senior staff — have access to classified information, we should not be trading in the stock market on it.
The Ban Conflicted Trading Act has bipartisan and bicameral support. It’s time to pass it. pic.twitter.com/C6K47QK5rh
— Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@RepAOC) February 10, 2022
“I think that the speaker’s openness on this position is really a testament to the fact that, you know, public attention and pressure can move public policy from the bottom all the way to the top,” Ocasio-Cortez stated, praising Pelosi’s flip-flop on the issue. “I applaud the speaker’s openness and her willingness to listen to the caucus on this issue.”
The legislation is not new. Ocasio-Cortez, Neguse, and Krishnamoorthi have been pushing it for a number of years now. As more and more shady stock deals, profit-taking, and ongoing violations of the current STOCK Act have been uncovered, more pressure has been applied to Pelosi to ban the practice.
.@CongressmanRaja, @JoeNeguse and I have worked to ban members of Congress from trading individual stock for YEARS.
Lots of stories about the attempts to sink it – but now, thanks to increased public pressure + attention, we may have a shot.
Keep up the pressure 💪🏽 it’s working https://t.co/g9iMhfybfv
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) February 2, 2022
The legislation would not ban spouses of congressional lawmakers from trading stocks. Pelosi’s husband has profited handsomely by doing so while his wife has ruled over the Democrats in the House. Ocasio-Cortez, however, would like to see that ban take place as well and hopes for an amendment to the legislation to make that happen.
Pelosi seems to be bowing to broad public pressure especially among her base, but there was a specific, internal push that may have turned the tide… a discharge petition put forth by Ocasio-Cortez.
A House rule allows 218 members who sign the petition to force a bill onto the floor for a vote. Last week, Ocasio-Cortez filed a bill banning member stock trades with the Rules Committee which was filled with requirements that made it very unlikely for the committee to pass it. The resolution would have required an immediate floor vote on the bill and barred amendments.
A rule in the House allows 218 members who sign a discharge petition to force a bill onto the floor for a vote. Last week @AOC got that process started by filing a bill with the Rules Committee filled with all sorts of lingo that would make the committee very unlikely to pass it pic.twitter.com/jXaz9i8NA0
— Ryan Grim (@ryangrim) February 9, 2022
After seven legislative days without action, a discharge petition can be requested and filed. The Democratic Socialist’s attempt pressured Pelosi’s office to not ignore the issue and instead to push forward her own version of the legislation.
There are competing proposals in the House and the Senate currently to stop stock trade abuses. Lawmakers will have to choose one and rally around it to make it happen while ensuring there is enough support for the bill to get votes.
The speaker of the House commented on the stock trading issue during her weekly news conference on Wednesday.
“I’m a big believer in our committees and we’ve tasked the House administration committee to review the options members are putting forth,” she remarked.
Pelosi has stated she will not oppose stock reforms but she wants to see provisions extended to the Supreme Court. The high court does not have to disclose stock trades as members of Congress are required to do.
“The judiciary has no reporting, the Supreme Court has no disclosure, it has no disclosure of stock transactions and it makes important decisions every day,” Pelosi said. “I do believe in the integrity of people in public service. I want the people to have that understanding. We have to do this to deter something we see as a problem, but it is a confidence issue and if that’s what the members want to do.”
The petition would have forced a vote on this bill by @RajaForCongress, AOC and others. It may be a coincidence, but had Pelosi not gotten ahead of it today, her hand would have been forced https://t.co/nYfeVJhuuT
— Ryan Grim (@ryangrim) February 9, 2022
“What we’re trying to do as a group is make sure we don’t lose sight of the central premise of the immediate effort,” Merkley asserted. “That is we have a deeply poisonous problem of members trading in individual stocks while they’re writing policy and that’s just unacceptable.”
Under the STOCK Act, which was passed in 2012, it’s illegal for members of Congress and their families to profit from insider information. Lawmakers are required to report stock trades to Congress within 45 days.
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