Banning Congress from trading stocks is massively popular. So why are top Democrats stagnating?

Advocacy groups last week renewed their calls for Congress to bar members and their families from trading stocks amid reports that Democratic leaders in the U.S. House — despite public pressure intense — are unlikely to vote on the issue until November’s midterm elections.

As members of Congress crafting laws that directly impact the lives of Americans, voters have a right to know whether their representatives are acting in the public interest or in a way that serves their personal interest,” said Trevor Potter, president of the Campaign Legal Center (CLC) and former chairman of the Federal Election Commission (FEC), in a statement.

Congress passed the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act ten years ago,” he noted, but the STOCK Act has not diminished the appearance of corruption that arises when members of Congress engage in suspicious stock trading.

The New York Times earlier this month published an investigation revealing that 97 members of congress bought or sold stocks, bonds or other financial assets that overlapped with their work in Congress or reported similar transactions by their spouse or dependent child,” a revelation that bolstered calls for ethics rule reforms in the matter.

Members of Congress have regular access to confidential insider information about public policies that directly and materially affect the economy — and stock markets,” Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist for watchdog group Public Citizen, Underline Thursday. Yet these same lawmakers buy and sell stocks at will, often after confidential briefings about likely peaks and downturns in the economy from information not available to the public.

Public Citizen executive vice president Lisa Gilbert said that the STOCK Act’s disclosure system itself should have prevented members of Congress from engaging in insider trading.

In fact, it has resulted in a dramatic reduction in stock trading activity by members of Congress,” Gilbert continued. But it’s time to take the next step and completely ban stock trading activities by members of Congress and their spouses.

The latest proposal from House Democrats along these lines is the Government Financial Conflicts of Interest Act (HOUR 8990) — which was formally introduced Wednesday and led by House Administration Committee Chair Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), under the direction of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

Pelosi has been criticized for stock trading by her husband, investor Paul Pelosi, although there have been no allegations of inappropriate or unethical behavior,” News reported Thursday, adding that Lofgren’s bill was the subject of heavy criticism on and off Capitol Hill.

However, CLC, Public Citizen, other organizations and the vast majority of Americans want lawmakers to act on the issue.

The Financial Conflicts of Interest in Government Act, designed with the shortcomings of stock law in mind, will work to restore that trust by prohibiting members of Congress from trading stocks. while in office and prohibiting such activity by their spouses, dependent children and senior executives,” Potter said. The law establishes significant penalties to promote compliance, an area where the STOCK law has been woefully insufficient. To comply with the new law, officials can transfer their investments to a blind trust to avoid conflicts of interest.

While this bill could be improved in terms of the scope of public servants covered and potential loopholes, it responds to voters’ calls for reform and I urge every member of the House to vote in favor of the tackling financial conflicts of interest in government,” he added. .

As Potter also pointed out, Public polls confirm that most Americans support banning lawmakers from trading stocks, so it’s crucial that the House pass this legislation.

Such survey of Stand Up America and Data for Progress, conducted over the past week, shows that 77% of all US voters – including 80% Democrats and 75% of Independents and Republicans — somewhat or strongly support a ban on congressional stock trading.

The majority of Democrats, Independents and Republicans polled also indicated they would be somewhat or much more likely to vote for congressional candidates in November. if they agree that members of Congress should not be allowed to trade stocks.

In a statement Wednesday, Stand Up America founder and president Sean Eldridge stress this our representatives should focus on public service, not personal profit.

This is why an overwhelming majority of Americans agree that it is time to end stock trading by incumbent members of Congress,” he said. Existing ethics laws do not go far enough to prevent members of Congress from using information to which they have access for personal gain. No more excuses. No more delays. It’s time to act.

Despite this pressure from voters and pro-democracy groups, punch bowl reported that sources within the House Democratic leadership said there was very unlikely that this bill will be implemented before the House adjourns for the election” on Friday.

The outlet noted that a senior assistant suggested Pelosi never really wanted a vote on this anyway’ when he described how the speaker handled this issue.

late Thursday morning, CNN Likewise reported that House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said likely no vote this week,” meaning House members — who are expected to head to their districts this weekend — are unlikely to have to make a decision on the bill before the election.

I haven’t read it, it’s a complicated question, as you can imagine, as a new rule for members that they have to follow, and their families as I understand it, so I think it deserves careful study to make sure that if we’re doing something, we’re doing it right,” Hoyer added.

As Common dreams reported On Tuesday, Hoyer, the second-ranked House Democrat, signaled his opposition to the bill in meetings with colleagues – which critics called ashamed.”

The Senate is also not expected to rule on the matter in the coming weeks. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), who led the upper house version, said earlier this month than it is I can’t wait to cross the finish line, but it won’t happen before the election.

This story was first published on Common dreams.

About Michael S. Montanez

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