Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Wednesday that Democrats would bring legislation to the House this month that would impose new restrictions on lawmakers’ ability to buy and sell stocks.
Her announcement came after months of negotiations over whether and how to restrict personal financial activities by members of Congress that could create real or perceived conflicts of interest with their public duties. And it came a day after The New York Times published an analysis showing that between 2019 and 2021, 97 Representatives and Senators or their immediate family members reported transactions in stocks, bonds or other financial assets that could have been affected by commissions that they were. on serve.
Ms. Pelosi declined to provide details of the legislative proposal, except calling it “very strong.”
“We think we have a product that we can bring to market this month,” Ms. Pelosi said during her weekly press conference at the Capitol.
In the seven months since Ms. Pelosi first expressed support for legislation to tighten trade restrictions in congressional stock, there have been few signs of legislative progress that could pass the House. A number of slightly different bills have been introduced in both the House and Senate, some with bipartisan support.
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“For months, House and Senate leaders have pledged action,” said Virginia Democrat Abigail Spanberger, a Virginia Democrat and lead sponsor of a bipartisan proposal to curb the trade by lawmakers. “It’s been a long time since we moved forward.”
A version of a legislative framework in the House, outlined in a late August memo reviewed by The Times, would effectively prohibit lawmakers, their spouses and dependent children from trading individual stocks, bonds, cryptocurrencies and other financial assets specific companies.
Under the framework, which forms the basis for the current negotiations on a legislative proposal, members of Congress would either have to divest these assets or place them in a blind trust in which they would have no visibility or involvement. Legislators should continue to invest in mutual funds, exchange-traded funds and some other categories.
According to the memo, the new legislation would also require more detailed disclosure of transactions for the permitted investments — for example, by narrowing the value ranges of published assets — and strengthen penalties for those who circumvent or break the law.
“Congress can give teeth to these sentences, which will promote compliance and have more severe consequences for violations,” the memo states.
According to the memo, members of the Supreme Court would be subject to the same restrictions. That includes senior congressional staff, according to a Democratic official in the House.
Congress leaders have faced increasing pressure in recent months to crack down on their colleagues’ financial activities. a running research The Insider website, which started last year, has identified 72 examples of lawmakers failing to comply with current laws by submitting transaction reports late, inaccurately, or not at all.
A opinion poll Research conducted early this year showed that nearly two-thirds of respondents were in favor of a blanket ban on members of Congress from trading individual stocks. And with public confidence in Congress for as low as 7 percent in June, many lawmakers hate to ignore the demands of their voters.
“Congress is mired in a crisis of institutional legitimacy, caused in part by messages from members of both parties who appear to be taking advantage of their position of public trust,” wrote Noah Bookbinder, president of the Washington nonprofit Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics. . in a letter on Wednesday calling for expanded limits on trade by members of Congress.
In a separate press conference on Tuesday, other senior House Democrats expressed confidence that new trade restrictions are making progress.
New York Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, chairman of the House Democratic caucus, said he expected to see legislation “someday soon” from Representative Zoe Lofgren, the California Democrat who has tasked Ms. Pelosi with developing a bill that would broaden broad scope. can receive support.
It is not clear whether the Senate will pass legislation on the matter this year. A number of senators have been working on proposals, but none appear to have received the 60 votes needed for Senate approval.
Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley, who is working on one of the proposals, said on Wednesday, “I am determined to get the ban on trading congressional stock across the finish line. I’ve been wearing this fight for ten years and I won’t let it die.”