Hard Sell: Bipartisan Push to Ban Stock Trading in Congress

There isn't much the two parties in Congress agree on these days, but one issue is uniting Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill. This week, a bipartisan group of lawmakers sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) in support of legislation to ban members of Congress from trading individual stocks. The issue has come under scrutiny for years, as many lawmakers owned and traded in stocks related to companies and industries they oversee and regulate through legislation. Ultimately, it led to passage of the STOCK Act, which requires all members of Congress to disclose any asset transactions within a 45-day window. Several members of Congress, and even some Biden cabinet members, have been accused of violating the STOCK Act.

The legislation now proposed goes well beyond the STOCK Act, to prohibit any individual stock ownership by sitting members of Congress. Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) recently joined KTRH's Clay Travis and Buck Sexton to discuss his support of the ban. "I think that when people go to Congress, they ought to be focused on doing what the voters sent them there to do and not be distracted by trying to pad their own pockets," he told Clay and Buck. "And I think one of the easiest ways to do that is just say to members of Congress, “You can’t own individual stocks. If you want to invest, fine, do what most Americans do, put your money in future funds. If you don’t want to do that, put it in a blind trust.”

The list of lawmakers supporting the bill crosses the political gamut of both parties, from House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), and staunch conservatives like Congressmen Chip Roy (R-TX) and Matt Gaetz (R-FL), to liberals like Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Senator Jon Ossoff (D-GA).

Notably not on board with the bill is Speaker Pelosi, whose husband Paul is a major stock trader. Pelosi told reporters last month "No" when asked if she supports a ban on stock trading in Congress, saying, "We are a free market economy, and people should be able to participate in that."

But now, under growing pressure from her own party---as well as public polling showing two-thirds of Americans support the ban---Pelosi has said she's open to new regulations, including increasing penalties for violations of the STOCK Act, if not for an outright ban on stock trading.

Hawley told Clay and Buck that Pelosi is Exhibit A in why this legislation should be passed. "All you have to know about why it’s a problem is the fact that Nancy Pelosi’s absolutely desperately for stock trading. So… (chuckles) She’s rich, of course, and she wants to continue to be able to trade individual stocks, which she and her husband do frequently and make millions of dollars on it..."

Photo: Getty Images North America

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