Congress Passes STOCK Act in Landslide Vote
Overwhelming support was shown for the bill, passing 417-2 in the House, and 96-3 in the Senate two weeks ago. The bill would ban any Congressman and their employees from disclosing nonpublic information on any pending or prospective legislative action relating to any public traded company.
The bill would require the Commodities Future Trading Commission and Securities and Exchange Commission to establish rules banning insider trading. In addition, it would require lawmakers to publicly report any trades of more than $1,000 within 90 days. These sections were passed in both the House and Senate version; however the House omitted two important provisions passed in the Senate.
The first provision omitted in the House version was a requirement for people who get paid to gather political intelligence to register as lobbyists. The second provision was a bipartisan proposal to toughen federal anti-corruption laws. Members in the House of Representatives believed that language was too broad in these provisions, which is why they omitted them from their version of the bill.
“Members of the media who report on federal and congressional issues to a paid subscriber list might have to register as a political intelligence consultants for their reporting under the provision,” said Laena Fallon, spokeswoman for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), in an interview with USA Today.
The STOCK Act was originally introduced in 2006, but had been shelved until recently. Congress’ dropped approval ratings have been a contributing factor. In November, a 60 Minutes report was aired that attacked Congress for financial transactions made by lawmakers. The report took aim at House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California).
After the report blasted Congress on its ethical standards, 167 Congressmen immediately co-sponsored the bill. Over a hundred additional Congressmen decided to co-sponsor the bill by the time it was put up to vote.
Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-New York), who had been an original co-sponsor of the 2006 bill, was appalled by the sudden outburst in support. “I’ve never seen anything like it,” she told USA Today. Rep. Slaughter had been pushing the bill for nearly six years.
Every member of Congress from the state of Ohio voted for the bill.
Members of Congress hope that the bill can help their approval ratings, which were measured at an all time low of 10 percent just last week.