OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has done an about-face and has agreed to consider allowing legislation banning stock trading by sitting members of Congress and their families to move in the lower chamber.
As recently as just a few weeks ago, Pelosi voiced opposition to suggestions that she get on board with legislative efforts to ban congressional members from trading in stocks, an effort driven by a belief among a growing number of Americans that lawmakers have access to information that they take advantage of, even though so-called “insider trading” is against the law.
However, Pelosi is now working with other Democrats to get the legislation to the floor, as reported by Punchbowl News, after succumbing to pressure from members of her own party as well as Republicans.
During her Wednesday morning press conference on Capitol Hill, Pelosi confirmed that she was interested in the proposal.
“We have to do this to determine something that we see as a problem — but it is a confidence issue — and if that’s what the members want to do, then that’s what we will do,’ Pelosi said.
She also confirmed enlisting House Administration Committee Chair Rep. Zoe Lofgren to come up with pathways on how to enact the stock trading ban and present those to House leaders.
Pelosi said there was a “certain criteria” for any legislation that gets her to agree to allow the legislation to go to the full House for debate and a vote.
The Speaker went on to note that while lawmakers and other federal officials have stock reporting disclosure requirements via current statutes, the Supreme Court does not nor does the Judicial Branch writ large.
Here is a transcript of her comments:
You know what, I’m a big believer in our committees. We task the House Administration Committee to review the options that numbers are putting forth. And they have different views on the subject. But I’ve said certain criteria that I wanted to see, whatever design they have for that, that’s one. But the other is that we have to tighten the fines on those who violate The STOCK Act, but it’s certainly not sufficient to detour behavior and then a third is, really it has to be government-wide.
We make a disclosure every year of our financial disclosure, that’s what it is. And then in addition to that on a regular basis, when there is a stock transaction to report that. The court system, the third branch of government, the judiciary, has no reporting. The Supreme Court has no disclosure. It has no reporting of stock transactions. And it makes important decisions every day. I do believe in the integrity of people in public service. I want the public to have that understanding. We have to do this to detour something that we see as a problem but it is a confidence issue. And if that’s what the members want to do then that’s what we will do.
But the Supreme Court and the judiciary, even the chairman of the — chief justice has pointed out some of the — what [he] flirted with the word and maybe used the word scandals that have happened in the judiciary. So, they are listening to members about how it affects members.
I’m also saying that we need and — and our members have been saying this for years, why does the Supreme Court of the United States have no disclosure, financial disclosure now that we had the STOCK Act to do that? There is another consideration, as you know, in the executive branch when they divest of their stock, they don’t pay capital gains. So, that’s [an] interesting feature. But it’s complicated. And members will figure it out and then we’ll go forward with what the consensus is.