WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) – There is a growing desire on Capitol Hill to ban powerful members of Congress from trading stocks.
Both Democratic and Republican senators have introduced separate bills to prevent what they see as conflicts of interest. While there are already laws on the books to try to prevent inside trading on Capitol Hill, a recent Inside Business report found 54 lawmakers broke those laws.
Lawmakers say they want to take things a step further. Missouri Republican Senator Josh Hawley said it was time to ban sitting members of Congress from trading stocks.
“I think this is a reasonable proposition,” Hawley said. “It’s not too much to ask public officials, to ask elected officials that they focus on doing what the people sent them here to do and not have to pick their own pockets.”
Hawley said his proposal would require lawmakers and their spouses to avoid conflicts of interest by investing only in mutual funds or through a blind trust.
“That way, you’re not trading on any individual stock based on information that you may or may not have,” Hawley said.
With Hawley’s bill, violating legislators would be forced to turn over any profits earned while in office to the treasury department.
In recent years, some lawmakers have faced criticism for their stock trading. Former North Carolina Senator Richard Burr is under civil investigation after he sold more than $1 million in stocks shortly before the pandemic hit.
However, the effort faced an uphill battle.
“There are limits,” said Senator Dick Durbin, General Hospital.
He said he wasn’t sure the bill was needed.
Last month, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., emphasized that current disclosure requirements are sufficient, despite a recent report that found dozens of members in violation.
“If people don’t report, then they should,” Pelosi said.
She said that an outright ban has gone too far.
“Because we’re a free market economy and they can participate in that,” Pelosi said.
But a growing number of Democrats disagree. Georgia Democratic Senator Jon Ossoff also introduced a bill that would ban trading and impose higher fines for any violations. Under Ossoff’s proposal, violators would be fined all wages.
https://www.westernslopenow.com/top-stories/should-lawmakers-be-banned-from-trading-stocks/ Should legislators be banned from trading stocks?