Feb 9, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Pelosi buckles, pushes stock-trading ban

Illustration of caution tape with dollar signs on it covering the Capitol Dome

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is moving to ban stock trading on Capitol Hill, after having consistently opposed such a measure, Punchbowl News reported.

Why it matters: This adds unprecedented momentum to an issue that also has bipartisan support on the Senate side.

  • Pelosi's imprimatur, which was first reported by Punchbowl News, follows building momentum in both parties: Some progressive Democrats and MAGA Republicans have united on a proposal to ban sitting lawmakers from trading individual stocks, Axios reported last month.
  • Pelosi said Wednesday a bill could be put forward "very soon" and indicated she would support legislation that imposes more harsh fines for lawmakers who violate the STOCK act.
  • She added that any bill should include restrictions on stock trading for other branches of government, singling out the judiciary and the Supreme Court.

Pelosi, who expressed opposition to a ban in the past, and some other Democratic leaders have been slow to take up the issue, despite reported interest from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).

  • "We're a free-market economy," Pelosi told reporters in December. "[Lawmakers] should be able to participate in that."
  • She has been a target of those seeking to ban congressional trading, with critics regularly noting that her husband is an active trader who holds millions of dollars of stocks.
  • Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has already endorsed banning stock trades by members of Congress, telling reporters on Tuesday that he "would like to see it done."

Driving the news: Pelosi and House Democratic leaders are planning to "amend the STOCK Act, the 2012 law governing how members disclose the purchase or sale of stocks, to eliminate the trading of individual stocks by members of Congress," Punchbowl News reports.

State of play: Momentum has been growing in both parties and both chambers.

  • Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Steve Daines (R-Mont.) have already reached a deal to file a stock-ban bill, Axios' Sophia Cai reports.
  • Their bill would ban lawmakers and their spouses from owning and trading individual stocks but would allow them to own stock in diversified funds.
  • But other Democratic Senators have lined up behind a less stringent proposal from Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) and Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) that would require members of Congress and their spouses to put their stock portfolios in a blind trust.

Between the lines: Members of Congress have great power to move stock prices, and great financial incentives to do so, Axios' Dan Primack notes.

Editor's note: This article has been updated to include remarks from Pelosi.

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