A coalition of government watchdog and advocacy groups sent a letter to Democratic leaders on Tuesday, urging them to take action to ban members of Congress from trading individual stocks, a move the organizations say is crucial to protecting democracy and preserving Congress’s legitimacy.
The 22-member coalition informed Chuck Schumer (D–New York), Senate Majority Leader, and Nancy Pelosi(D-California), in their letter thatThe Democrats must introduce a stock ban to prevent a vote before November elections usher in a new Congress. Leaders must support a ban to ensure its success.
“We are at a critical juncture in our nation’s history. The steady stream of revelations made by members of Congress have repeatedly flouted basic financial conflict of interest laws,” the groups wrote. “We urge you to lead the way in passing these common sense, popular policies to ensure that members of Congress act in the interest of the people they serve, rather than their own financial interest.”
Watchdog groups such as the Campaign Legal Center and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, (CREW), Project on Government Oversight and Public Citizen signed the letter. End Citizens United, Greenpeace USA and other advocacy groups signed on.
The groups requested that Schumer and Pelosi commit to bringing a stock-ban to a vote in September. Over the past months, lawmakers have introduced a variety of stock bans in Congress. The groups believe that a strong and effective ban would contain three key components. It would prohibit lawmakers trading individual stocks, include their spouses, and create an enforcement mechanism that will actually force lawmakers to comply.
“[W]e fear that without your strong leadership and advocacy this critical good government reform will stall,” the letter reads. “The August recess and the November elections loom. Each day passes increases the chances that Congress won’t have time to adopt and pass this legislation. That must not happen.”
The coalition warns that Congress will not pass a stock ban unless lawmakers act. As long members are regularly found to be in violation of the STOCK Act — which places weak financial reporting requirements on lawmakers — the public will always have a certain degree of mistrust in the motivations of lawmakers, who are often regulating the very companies that they own a stake in.
Gallup has confirmed this. found last monthThe public’s confidence in Congress has dropped to 7 percent, five percentage points below 2021. Proposals to ban members of Congress trading stocks are popular; in June, Data for Progress: that 70 percent of likely voters support congressional stock bans, while 68 percent agreed that members’ spouses should also be barred from the practice.
In recent years, Congress has been rocked by several stock scandals, including insider trading allegations. against senators from both sides of the aisleAfter senators had given them a confidential briefing, they made stock trades quickly. This was before the public learned about the economic effects of the coronavirus epidemic.
The Department of Justice later droppedThe insider trading investigations and the Securities and Exchange Commission. still hasn’t concluded its investigation into Sen. Richard Burr’s (R-North Carolina) trades. But these trades are not suspicious. a negative impact on the public’s views of Congress, and may Even contributed toSen. Kelly Loeffler (R. Georgia) is losing her seat in 2020.
Congress has a rare bipartisan support for the idea that stock bans should be implemented. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts), Senators Jon Ossoff (D. Georgia) and Mark Kelly (D. Arizona)Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Montana)Separate bills introduced to propose different versions for a stock ban.
The House Democrats are in the process of draftingA consensus bill to prohibit members from trading individual stocks is expected to be released shortly. Lawmakers in the Senate are also working on a bill combining several different proposals, though it’s unclear if or when leaders will schedule a vote on the measure.
Although the legislation is supported by a large majority, one key figure has not endorsed it: Lawmakers believe that Pelosi is the husband of the bill’s author. A prolificStock trader, doesn’t want to bring the bill up for a vote since she personally benefits from the loose rules.