- The Washington Times
Thursday, April 7, 2022

Democrats are pushing for a congressional stock trade ban, citing the need to restore public trust in lawmakers.

A group of House Democrats, along with Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon, met on Thursday to call for the passage of legislation that would impose the ban, though members have yet to agree on how broad such a bill should be.

“To all of our colleagues across the Democratic caucus, this is not hard. This is about who we stand for,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal, Washington Democrat. “There is a deficit of trust in the American people, for good reason, with the corporations and the wealthiest having so much influence over our political process.”

Ms. Jayapal, who chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus, was joined by Reps. Joe Neguse of Colorado, Andy Kim of New Jersey, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Abigail Spanberger of Virginia, and Angie Craig of Minnesota, as well as Mr. Merkley.

Renewed calls to ban stock trading among lawmakers followed reports last year that more than 50 members of Congress and more than 100 staffers had violated federal conflict-of-interest laws.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, however, previously rejected calls to implement a stock ban on lawmakers.

Mrs. Pelosi is one of the wealthiest members of Congress, with her husband Paul Pelosi having holdings in companies like Tesla, Disney, Slack, Facebook, and Netflix.

“We are a free market economy. They should be able to participate in that,” Mrs. Pelosi said in December, when asked whether she supported a ban.

The Democrats in favor of a ban said leadership can be pressured if there’s enough support in the caucus to pass the reforms.

Broadly, there’s a bipartisan consensus in the House and Senate that some kind of ban should be implemented among lawmakers to void conflicts of interest.

Ms. Spanberger, a member of the Blue Dog Coalition who previously spoke out against Mrs. Pelosi’s resistance to a ban, said a lack of action would show that lawmakers are out of step with the electorate, which polls show largely support some type of trading ban.

“It is not just us — a broad swath of Democrats from across the country,” Ms. Spanberger said. “It is also Democrats, Republicans, across geographies, across length of congressional service, and then the American people. If that’s not a push towards doing this right, important thing, I don’t know what else is.”

A January poll by Morning Consult/Politico found that three-in-five voters supported a ban.

The poll, conducted Jan. 15-16 among 2,005 registered voters, found 63% favored banning lawmakers from stock trading.

Among Democrats, 69% backed a ban, while 58% of Republicans and 64% of independents held the same view.

A majority of voters, 57%, also believed lawmakers’ families should be banned from trading stocks.

The poll carried an error margin of +/-2%.

• Mica Soellner can be reached at msoellner@washingtontimes.com.

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