The Senate today approved legislation to restrict Congressional insider trading on a broad bipartisan vote, sending the bill to the president’s desk for his signature.
The Stop Trading On Congressional Knowledge Act, which passed 96-3, had long been stalled, with some version of the bill introduced in every Congress since 2006. The bill finally gained serious momentum in the fall, when “60 Minutes” profiled lawmakers who allegedly were profiting in the stock market with knowledge they picked up from being in the House or Senate.
In February, the House passed the STOCK Act on a rare and overwhelmingly bipartisan 417-2 vote.
The legislation, as written, would prohibit Members of Congress and their employees from buying or selling securities and other financial instruments based on non-public information they obtain because of their work in the government. It also bans executive branch employees from doing the same thing. The bill also bans Members and employees of Congress from disseminating non-public information regarding pending legislation that could be used for investment purposes.
The legislation would also impose stricter disclosure rules that would require Members and Congressional employees to report stock, bond or futures transactions in excess of $1,000 within 90 days.
Though some have questioned the need for or impact of the bill, it certainly plays as a political win for both parties as disdain for Washington, D.C., and “insiders” grows outside the Beltway.
Senate GOP aides were quick to point out that Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.), who is facing a tough re-election battle against consumer financial protection advocate Elizabeth Warren, is a co-sponsor of the bill. Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, introduced the bill in the Senate. In the House, the legislation was championed for six years by Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.).
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.