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Cantor Signals Openness to STOCK Act

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor today spoke supportingly of legislation winding its way through Congress that would clearly ban federal lawmakers and their staff from trading securities on insider information.

Speaking outside the Capitol, the Virginia Republican said, “It is unacceptable for anyone, any Member ... to profit from insider information or from information that’s not available to the public. Period.”

The Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act is currently in the Senate, where Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) hopes to have work completed this week. President Barack Obama called for the bill’s passage in his State of the Union address last week and Reid moved quickly to bring up the measure. Securities and Exchange Commission rules prohibit insider trading already, but the legislation would explicitly state in statute that lawmakers could not trade on insider information.

Reid — a master of parliamentarian tricks in the Senate — has opted to use an open amendment process for the bill, a rarity in the sharply divided chamber. That decision has significantly increased the chances that Democrats or Republicans, possibly even both, will attach “poison pill” language to the bill that could either stall it in the Senate or make it unpalatable to the House.

Indeed, Cantor warned that if the Senate does not pass a strong enough measure, “it is my intension to move a bill, to bring a bill to the floor in February, that does” address GOP concerns, most notably added restrictions on the executive branch.

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