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STOCK Act Goes Prime Time

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call
Rep. Louise Slaughter, one of the primary co-sponsors of a bill to increase disclosure regarding Members' stock trades or restricting some trades altogether, was pleased with the coverage given to the bill by CBS on "60 Minutes" on Sunday.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, whom “60 Minutes” flagged for what it called suspect stock trades, supports the bill, according to a statement from her office. The California Democrat disputed the program’s account of her trades, however.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), a member of the Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction and one of Pelosi’s top lieutenants, was among six lawmakers who have signed on to the bill since the program aired, according to Slaughter’s office.

Slaughter said everyone from colleagues to constituents in her district’s Greater Rochester International Airport has been approaching her in support of the measure since the program aired.

The program “gave it a lot of time,” she said. “We work in a very special place; we are given a serious obligation here to do the best for the nation. To be sidetracked here to make a buck or to have someone else do it, is very offensive.”

Rep. Tim Walz, the bill’s other primary sponsor, said he is emboldened by the coverage, and he and Slaughter are sending around “Dear Colleague” letters and will speak to Members on the House floor about supporting the bill.

“I think the momentum is here. I’d like to see this thing move fast track to the floor as quick as possible,” the Minnesota Democrat said. “I don’t know how you go home and tell people that you don’t think this is a good idea. I’m not above leveraging that” to get support.

Walz added that he plans to announce a “strong Senate companion ready to roll.”

Still, all of the bill’s sponsors so far are Democrats except for Rep. Walter Jones Jr. (N.C.), a Republican who signed on to the bill in October. That is not a promising sign for action in the GOP-controlled House.

Peter Schweizer, the Stanford University Hoover Institution fellow whose just-released book, “Throw Them All Out,” provided some of the basis for the “60 Minutes” report, said he doubts Congress will act on the measure unless constituents initiate grass-roots support for doing so.

“It’s going to be hard to get any legislative reform effort under way unless Members of Congress feel the heat, and that’s got to happen first,” he said. “I do think a lot of people, from the tea party to Occupy Wall Street, are frustrated with Washington. I hope people will be outraged by this.”

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