House negotiators are working to bring a bill on the floor to restrict lawmakers’ stock trading by the end of the month, with the confidence that Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi will let it happen.
“We believe we have a product that we can bring to the floor this month,” Mrs. Pelosi told reporters this week.
Mrs. Pelosi has been at the center of the controversy surrounding stock trading among lawmakers, given her husband’s frequent participation in buying and selling stocks and stock options. Critics say unchecked stock trading could lead to conflicts of interest for lawmakers, who often have inside information that can directly affect markets, industries and individual companies.
Earlier this year, the California Democrat said she would support a ban on lawmakers trading stocks, an about-face after dismissing the proposal last year in favor of respecting a “free-market economy.”
Mrs. Pelosi, along with her husband, Paul Pelosi, have made the vast majority of their wealth from stock trading, according to a report from Insider.
Most recently, Mr. Pelosi was in the news for selling up to $5 million worth of shares of a major chipmaker just days before the House passed a bill to shore up domestic chip manufacturing.
The issue has become a point of rare bipartisan efforts in Congress with several proposals to restrict stock trading being put forward in both chambers.
In the House, Reps. Abigail Spanberger, Virginia Democrat, and Chip Roy, Texas Republican, revived a bill they introduced nearly three years ago to require members of Congress to put their investment assets into a qualified blind trust while serving in office.
The bill, dubbed the TRUST in Congress Act, currently has 67 co-sponsors across the political spectrum. A similar proposal put forward by two Democratic senators would mirror that proposal.
Earlier this month, Mrs. Spanberger and Mr. Roy sent a letter to Mrs. Pelosi and GOP Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy calling for a Sept. 30 deadline to bring a bill to the floor to ban congressional stock trading.
Several other members, including Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick, Pennsylvania Republican, Pramila Jayapal, Washington Democrat, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, New York Democrat, signed on to the letter.
But the lawmakers are struggling to get House leadership to back their three-year effort, with Mrs. Pelosi bringing in House Administration Committee Chairwoman and fellow California Democrat Zoe Lofgren to work on negotiations for a compromise bill.
The negotiations have largely been behind closed doors without input from members leading on the issue, they argue.
“[Mrs. Pelosi] is looking for political cover for herself and to see if she can set up a political win for her and Democrats,” Mr. Roy said. “Let’s just on a bipartisan basis try and solve this. How do we get this institution working again? One way to do that is to restore public trust to ensure the public that we’re not day-trading for profit.”
Mrs. Spanberger said she’s concerned a newly constructed version of their bill would not only reduce support, but weaken its ability to pass.
Mrs. Pelosi “seems unwilling to bring our bill forward and we don’t know what bill she wants to bring forward, and it’s entirely possible that she could create a bill that would lose vast amounts of support,” Mrs. Spanberger said. “I hope that’s not what she intends to do, but that’s possible.”
Rep. David Schweikert, an Arizona Republican who co-sponsored the bipartisan legislation, is among the members who could back out if the compromise bill differs from the piece original measure he supported.
“I’m fine with it if it’s drafted and written up and it makes sense,” he said. “But we went through this theater several years ago. In some ways you feel like you’re just making this an election issue because Nancy Pelosi‘s husband got in the newspaper.”
A New York Times report published this month reported 97 lawmakers or family members bought or sold financial assets in the past three years that could be considered a conflict of interest.
Ms. Lofgren was listed as among the lawmakers whose spouses made transactions considered a potential conflict.
The Stock Act, passed in 2012, prohibits members of Congress and staff from using private information derived from official positions for personal gain or other purposes.
• Mica Soellner can be reached at email@example.com.
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