Warren re-ups bill to ban stock trading by lawmakers
While Georgia’s two Republican senators fend off campaign attacks on their stock trading, their Democratic colleague Elizabeth Warren is re-launching her bill to prevent lawmakers from making individual stock trades.
Georgia Republican Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler both came under recent fire for buying and selling stocks at moments when they were privy to sensitive information about the companies they invested in. Each is now a candidate in Georgia’s high-stakes January 5 runoff election, the outcome of which could change control of the Senate next year.
Warren’s proposed ban is part of a broader anti-corruption plan she promoted on the presidential campaign trail and is reintroducing with hopes that it can gain traction now that she has returned to the Senate. Warren, who said she would make such reform her first priority as president, proposes many changes to federal ethics law, including creating lifetime bans on lobbying for former members of Congress, expanding federal conflict-of-interest rules and barring lobbyists from fundraising for political candidates. Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) introduced a companion bill in the House.
“After nearly four years of the most corrupt president in American history and with U.S. senators brazenly trading stocks to profit off a raging pandemic, the Anti-Corruption and Public Integrity Act is more urgent than ever,” the lawmakers said in a joint statement.
The bill’s most timely proposal is its proposed ban on stock trading. Members of Congress are allowed to buy and sell individual stocks with few restrictions, and this year, lawmakers including Loeffler, former Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), and a number of House members and aides were subject to scrutiny after trading stock in companies that are intimately involved in the coronavirus and its economic fallout, at times when Congress was receiving briefings and other frequent updates on the virus.
Perdue, too, became the subject of media reports for his prolific trading, which amounted to 2,956 trades during his first term as senator.
The endemic stock trading on Capitol Hill has led many watchdogs to call for a change in the law. Congress has made few steps towards doing so: A major government reform bill that was one of the first issues taken up by the House in 2018 did not address stock trading.