Lawmakers renew bipartisan push to ban congressional stock trading

A bipartisan duo of House lawmakers reintroduced legislation to ban members of Congress from trading stocks while in office, renewing last year’s push that captured headlines but fell short of a floor vote.

Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger of Virginia and Republican Rep. Chip Roy of Texas reintroduced the TRUST in Congress Act on Thursday. It would require members of Congress, their spouses and their dependent children to put certain investment assets into a qualified blind trust while the member is in office.

“We are long overdue for a vote on legislation to ban Members of Congress and their spouses from trading individual stocks,” Spanberger said in a statement.

“Our TRUST in Congress Act would demonstrate that lawmakers are focused on serving the interests of the American people — not their own stock portfolios,” she added.

Last year, lawmakers worked toward a possible agreement to get proposals to a vote but no breakthrough emerged. Even support from Democratic leadership was not enough to find consensus.

That development was still notable because then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — a longtime defender of lawmakers’ ability to trade stocks — committed to putting legislation on the floor that would restrict members from stock trading after public pressure grew and the Senate put forth its own proposals, which also stalled.

Thursday’s renewed effort is Spanberger and Roy’s third attempt to get the bill to the floor — but this time was introduced with 35 cosponsors ranging from conservative Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida to liberals such as Rep. Adam Schiff of California. It is the most cosponsors the legislation has received when introduced.

That’s compared to seven other original cosponsors that grew to 75 in 2022, after starting with no cosponsors and growing to eight in 2020.

The proposed legislation goes beyond the 2012 STOCK Act, which prohibits the use of non-public information for private profit, including insider trading by members of Congress and other government employees. The STOCK Act doesn’t legislate trade activity beyond that.

Lawmakers’ ability to trade stocks has been the subject of increasing scrutiny over the years. Several members of Congress were scrutinized for their financial transactions during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, when members of Congress received closed-door briefings that warned of an impending financial crash.

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