- House Democrats just teed up a potential vote next week on a congressional stock trading ban.
- Top Democrats told colleagues that the legislation will most likely include Supreme Court justices.
- That inclusion — along with the short time members will have to consider the bill — may signal peril.
House Democratic leaders announced that the chamber may consider legislation to ban members of Congress from trading stocks as soon as next week.
Democratic Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York — the chair of the Democratic caucus — announced on the House floor on Thursday afternoon that the body “may consider legislation to reform the STOCK Act.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi previously indicated that a bill could come in September.
In a “Dear Colleague” letter sent on Thursday and obtained by Insider, Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California, the chair of the Committee on House Administration, released a framework entitled “Combatting Financial Conflicts of Interest and Restoring Public Faith and Trust in Government.”
“Across the entire federal government, there have been significant stories regarding financial conflicts of interest in relation to stock trading and ownership,” Lofgren wrote. “Collectively, these stories undermine the American people’s faith and trust in the integrity of public officials and our federal government.”
The framework includes much of what prominent advocates of stock-ban legislation have asked for, such as including spouses and dependent children in any potential ban.
Other framework provisions call for:
- Mandatory electronic filing of financial disclosures, as some officials submit all-but-illegible disclosures.
- Requiring “more granularity” when disclosing financial trades. Currently, lawmakers are only required to disclosure the values of their trades in broad ranges, such as $100,000 to $250,000 or $1 million to $5 million.
- A ban on senior government officials, including members of Congress and their immediate families, from trading cryptocurrencies.
Lofgren’s framework also includes one class of government official alongside members of Congress — Supreme Court justices. It’s a move that advocates view as a potential “poison pill” meant to ensure the legislation is unable to pass the Senate.
—bryan metzger (@metzgov)
The framework also calls for increasing the penalty for violating the STOCK Act from a meager $200 to $1,000 for every 30-day period in which a member of Congress is not in compliance, and calls for greater transparency around enforcement of the law.
“A number of bills that have been introduced to date address some of these issues and include thoughtful proposals, but no one bill addresses each of these four elements with this level of detail,” Lofgren wrote. “I will soon introduce legislative text for a bill built on this framework for reform.”
As of Thursday evening, full text of the bill had not been made public, and even members who have been working on related legislation told Insider they have yet to see text.
The House is voting for just 3 days next week, leaving little time for members to consider the new legislation.
The last-minute push to pass a congressional stock trading ban comes after months of members pressuring leadership to act, as well as Insider’s “Conflicted Congress” investigation, which has found dozens of members of Congress in violation of the STOCK Act and spurred broad calls for reform.
Several prominent proponents of a stock trading ban recently told Insider that they’d been largely left out of Democratic leadership’s legislative plans.
“I’m concerned about the lack of detail as to what is being planned,” said Democratic Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois. “The clock is winding down here pretty fast.”
“I’m not unreasonable on this, I just don’t want to play games,” said Spanberger. “And let’s not pretend.”
“We have not heard exactly what’s happening,” said Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington. “I can’t say I’m confident.”
Meanwhile, Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley told Insider last week that the Senate version of a stock trading ban is unlikely to come until after the midterm elections in November, although the senator continues to engage with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on the topic.