Senators Unveil Bipartisan Bill to Ban Lawmakers From Stock Trading

WASHINGTON—A bipartisan group of senators on July 10 put forth a bill that would ban members of Congress and other elected officials from trading stocks.

Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), and Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) announced that they had reached an agreement on the legislation.

“Members of Congress should not be playing the stock market while we legislate and while we have access to confidential and privileged information. This is long overdue. This is necessary,” Mr. Ossoff said at a press conference at the Capitol.

The bill would require lawmakers to divest from any previous stock purchases by 2027. It would affect lawmakers, the president and vice president, their spouses, and their dependent children, and it would apply to securities, commodities, futures, and trusts.

Mr. Merkley noted that members of Congress made more than $1 billion from stocks last year but that their portfolios consistently perform at higher-than-average rates.

“There are even investment funds that mimic the investments of members of Congress because of this phenomenon,” he said.

Mr. Merkley also raised concerns about possible conflicts of interest surrounding the lawmakers’ stock trading.

“The idea that you own a portfolio that concentrates on fossil fuels or renewable energy or bank stocks, or pharmaceuticals, and you are writing legislation, preparing amendments, or voting on bills that affect those investments” was an important factor, he said.

Mr. Hawley went a step further: “I don’t care if you don’t have so-called insider information or information not available to the public. Why should members of Congress be spending their time day-trading rather than focusing on the priorities that the American people sent us here to achieve and focus on?”

Mr. Peters, chair of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said the legislation will be considered for markup by his panel on July 24, noting that this will be the first time a Senate committee has considered such legislation.

Meanwhile, in the House, Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) took a slightly different approach. On July 9, she and 19 lawmakers from both sides of the aisle sent a letter to Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) and Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) calling for a vote on a bipartisan bill that would effectively ban individual stock trading among members of Congress.

The TRUST in Congress Act would require lawmakers, their spouses, and dependent children to place stock assets into a blind trust, preventing them from making profitable trades using insider knowledge without having to get rid of the stock altogether. It was introduced in January 2023, and has been referred to the House Committee on House Administration.

Concerns about insider influence in congressional stock trading are not new. In 2012, the STOCK Act was passed to curb insider trading among lawmakers by forcing them to disclose any trades over $1,000.

However, Ms. Spanberger’s letter noted that “recent investigations have found that 1 in 7 members violated the STOCK Act in the 117th Congress, 97 members traded stocks in companies impacted by their committee assignments from 2019 to 2021, and members outperformed the S&P 500 by 17.5 percent in 2022.”

Lawmakers have introduced similar measures in the past; Mr. Ossoff and Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) introduced a bill in 2023 that proposed the same restrictions as the TRUST Act. Mr. Hawley and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y) offered legislation that banned blind trusts and required profit disclosures that same year.

The Epoch Times has reached out to Mr. Johnson’s office for comment.


Leave a Reply