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Inter-Chamber Cooperation Likely to End

Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was willing to work on a House-passed bill to aid small businesses, and he could move to take up a House-passed insider trading bill, too.

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Reid’s willingness to move to the House-passed insider trading bill — also known as the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act — comes after he failed to get consent to go to conference with the House. The Senate passed its own version in February.

Reid said he would look to take up the House-passed bill rather than take the time needed to wade through procedural hurdles to conference with the House.

The measure was designed to reinforce a ban on Congressional insider trading. But during Senate debate on the measure earlier this year, it grew to encompass a politically uncomfortable discussion on Congressional ethics.

The Senate added numerous provisions in an amendment vote-a-rama. Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) called it an exercise in “self-flagellation,” and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) described it as a “feeding frenzy.”

House GOP leaders subsequently removed two key Senate provisions before sending the legislation to the floor, where it passed on the suspension calendar, 417-2, last month.

The first key provision removed was sponsored by Senate Judiciary ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and would have required political intelligence consultants to register as lobbyists. The second, from Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), broadened anti-corruption law.

Reid’s positioning comes after Grassley and Leahy wrote to Reid and McConnell on Monday urging them to go to conference, which would give them an opportunity to get their provisions back in the bill.

“The Senate passed both of these amendments with strong, bipartisan support. Unfortunately, the House stripped both provisions from the STOCK Act without a vote. The Senate should act to ensure that the key improvements it made to this bill are incorporated into the final legislation that Congress passes,” the letter said.

Regarding the House GOP bill to give small businesses a 20 percent tax cut, a Senate Democratic aide said that most Democrats, and the president, support the idea but have problems with the House proposal because it is likely too broad.

The aide said that all businesses with fewer than 500 employees are expected to be eligible for the tax cut and that includes some pretty big companies, such as sport franchises and hedge funds.

“It should be more targeted,” the aide said. “Hedge funds don’t need help.”

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