House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said that members of Congress can trade stocks on their own, even though her husband has made millions of dollars trading shares of tech companies. Georgia Sen. Jon Ossoff wants to introduce a bill that would stop members of Congress from doing this.
One of the things the Ossoff ethics bill would do is make it illegal for lawmakers and their families to trade stocks while they are in office, a Washington, D.C. source who is familiar with the situation told the New York Times.
As a result, it’s likely that lawmakers would also have to put their money in “blind trusts.” This is a step that the 34-year-old Ossoff took after he was elected in January 2021.
It doesn’t look like Senate Republicans have publicly said they don’t like Congress making trades in stocks. This means that Ossoff might have a hard time getting support for his bill in the Senate. GOP House members like Texas Reps. Michael Cloud and Chip Roy have said they don’t like the practice, which is why it’s more likely that the House will vote against it.
With the help of a Republican co-sponsor, Georgia Sen. Jon Ossoff can start introducing a bill called the Ossoff ethics act.
Also in March, four Democratic senators introduced the Ban Conflicted Trading Act in the Senate, which would have made it more difficult for Congress to trade. Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Rep. Raphael Warnock, a freshman from Georgia, were two of the senators. It also has a House version backed by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Roy, as well as many other Democrats and Republicans.
That’s why the Ban Conflicted Trading Act would only ban trades by members of Congress and their senior staff, not their spouses or families. This means that Paul Pelosi’s stock-picking would be legal.
The source said that Ossoff’s new bill would be stricter because it would close the spouse loophole. A bipartisan House bill called the TRUST in Congress Act would make the new law more in line with that bill. It wouldn’t allow close family members to trade, and it’s been backed by Democrats like Abigail Spanberger, Rep. Mondaire Jones, and Karen Bass, as well as Republicans like Roy, Cloud, Scott Perry, and Fred Keller, who are all Democrats. This would make the new law more in line with the TRUST in Congress Act (R-Pa.).
“A decision made for the people should be separate from a decision made for personal gain, said Roy to the New York Post.
Republicans in the Senate could back an Ossoff-style bill if they feel pressure from the public. Blake Masters, a Republican candidate in Arizona’s Senate primary, is one of the people who is putting pressure on Pelosi and Senate Republicans. Masters says both are “wrong” about the issue.
Masters told the Post that “These lawmakers are just out of touch with how most people see the situation.” Buying call options on Big Tech companies that Congress is in charge of regulating is a waste of time and money.
Spokesman Jake Best said, “Don’t have anything I can share right now.”
Pelosi and other politicians from both parties have been getting a lot of attention lately for making a lot of money trading stocks even though they might have insider information that could affect the prices of stocks. In the past, a lot of members of Congress haven’t been able to report their stock trades on time, even though the rules say that they must do so within 45 days.
Ossoff has said that the practice is bad, but he hasn’t signed on to any specific bill.
Ossoff and Warnock, in particular, seem to have gotten their start in politics because of bad Congressional stock trades. Their opponents in the 2021 special election in Georgia were both Republicans: Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue. Loeffler and Perdue were both under investigation for trading stocks before the 2020 stock market crash, which they learned about from Senate briefings about the coronavirus.
While Loeffler and Perdue were never charged with insider trading, Ossoff and Warnock both used the trades as a weapon to attack the incumbents, and they both won by very narrow margins.
An ethics lobbyist at the progressive think tank Public Citizen says that the election in Georgia shows why both Republicans and Democrats should back a crackdown on stock trading, even if they don’t agree with it.
“I think David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler lost their seats because of the insider trading allegations,” Holman told the New York Post. “I think the Republicans would have kept the Senate if those allegations had not been made.”
There is a risk to trading on the stock market for people from both sides, Holman said.
Concerns about insider trading have also spread outside of Congress.
He called for a ban on Federal Reserve officials trading stocks in October after it was revealed that two regional reserve bank presidents had traded stocks in 2020. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell took action a few weeks after that.