What once seemed like no-brainer legislation on the fast track will fail to reach the finish line in the 117th Congress. Legislation to ban members of Congress and their families from trading stocks appears to be dead for this term, with only a couple of weeks left and other issues like the debt ceiling still to tackle. The push for the stock trading ban had bipartisan support across both houses of Congress, with companion bills introduced in both the House and Senate. But, as is often the case on Capitol Hill, things got bogged down in the details. The bill's Democrat co-sponsor blasted her own party's leadership for watering it down with loopholes and carve-outs. Eventually the legislation got pushed past Election Day, and now the calendar is about to run out.
There is a new calendar starting in January, but that only means back to square one. "When you have a bill that goes through this entire process and is just ready to get voted on, and the clock runs out, you have to go back to the beginning of the process and start all over again," says Robert Stein, Rice political science professor. "And that, of course, is with a new Congress."
Passing legislation in the new Congress will likely be even trickier, with Republicans holding a narrow advantage in the House and Democrats a narrow majority in the Senate. "I actually see the next two years being an extremely challenging time for Congress," says Stein. "Republicans have the House, Democrats have the Senate, and I look to see a lot of nothing, except for some investigations."
"Neither party is about to give the other any advantage here, even on so-called 'bipartisan' legislation," he continues. "It will be interesting to see if all of these co-called 'gimme' or 'easy' bills come up in the next Congress, with Mr. McCarthy presumably in charge."
For what it's worth, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy and incoming House Democrat Leader Hakeem Jeffries have both said they support the stock trading ban.
If all of this frustrates you, Stein says don't blame Congress---blame the people. "The evidence seems to suggest that the public, although they don't think too highly of Congress, are not necessarily punishing their members for not getting things done," he tells KTRH. "Remember, about 90 percent of incumbents get re-elected."
"Blaming Congress is a famous game, but Americans have to remember...we elect these people."