Twenty-seven U.S. representatives --25 Democrats and two Republicans -- are urging House leadership to "swiftly bring legislation" to the floor prohibiting members of Congress from owning or trading stocks.
"This common-sense, bipartisan legislation is unfortunately necessary in light of recent misconduct, and is supported by Americans across the political spectrum," reads a letter sent Monday to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy drafted by Rep. Jared Golden, D-Maine.
"Both of you have recently addressed this issue in public comments, but this glaring problem will not go away until it is fixed and Congress should not delay when we have the power to fix it."
Pelosi in December insisted that members of Congress should be allowed to trade individual stocks despite often being privy to insider information. Days later, her husband bought millions of dollars’ worth of stocks in Alphabet, Disney, Micron Technology, Reoff XX, Salesforce and Roblox.
"We’re a free-market economy," she told reporters at the time. "They [lawmakers] should be able to participate in that."
Critics on both sides of the aisle have argued that lawmakers should only be allowed to invest in broader funds.
Sen. Jon Ossoff, D-Ga., and Josh Hawley, R-Mo., last week introduced similar bills that would ban lawmakers and their families from buying and selling stocks while in office.
Ossoff’s bill, the Ban Congressional Stock Trading Act, would require lawmakers, their spouses and dependents to place their stock portfolios into blind trusts and not allow lawmakers to use inside information to trade stocks and make money. His legislation would also fine the lawmakers from their salaries if they broke the law.
Hawley’s bill, the Banning Insider Trading in Congress Act, would also ban lawmakers from trading stocks but not prohibit dependent children from doing so. Lawmakers would have to return their profits to the American people through the Treasury Department if they broke the law.
"Members of Congress should not be playing the stock market while we make federal policy and when we have extraordinary access to privileged confidential information, as a matter of basic integrity and ethics in government," Ossoff said recently.
The bills come after an investigation by Business Insider found that 52 members of Congress had violated the STOCK Act, which says members of Congress are required to disclose trades. Democratic Senators Diane Feinstein of California and Mark Kelly of Arizona, as well as Republican Senators Rand Paul of Kentucky and Roger Marshall of Kansas have all violated the law in recent years, according to the Insider report.
The letter sent Monday says new bills would "end the potential corruption of lawmakers pursuing policy outcomes that benefit their portfolios."
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