Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) announced the "Banning Insider Trading in Congress Act" on Wednesday.
The bill "would prohibit Members of Congress and their spouses from holding, acquiring or selling stocks or equivalent economic interests during their tenure in elected office." It will also "require Members found in violation to return their profits to the American people," according to a press release from Hawley.
Members of Congress and their spouses will be given six months upon entering office "to divest any prohibited holdings or place those holdings in a blind trust for the remainder of their tenure in office."
Many members, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D) and her husband, have been criticized for earning higher-than-average returns on their investments, or changing investments in strategic industries right before new government policy is publicly announced.
The bill exempts any "holdings in diversified mutual funds, exchange-traded funds, or U.S. Treasury bonds from prohibition."
Hawley's bill is similar to a bill from Sens. Jon Ossoff (D-GA) – one of the most far-left members of Congress – and Mark Kelly (D-AZ), showing bi-partisan support for such a measure.
Axios reports that both bills "would prevent sitting lawmakers and their spouses from trading stock, but there are some differences."
- "Ossoff's bill also would apply the ban to any dependent children in addition to the spouses of lawmakers, whereas Hawley's bill would not."
- "Hawley's bill would have the Government Accountability Office provide oversight, whereas Ossoff would leave that to congressional ethics committees."
Members of Congress and their immediate families exchanged more than $630 million in stocks last year, The New York Times' DealBook reports.
"Year after year, politicians somehow manage to outperform the market, buying and selling millions in stocks of companies they're supposed to be regulating," Hawley said.
"Wall Street and Big Tech work hand-in-hand with elected officials to enrich each other at the expense of the country. Here's something we can do: ban all members of Congress from trading stocks and force those who do to pay their proceeds back to the American people. It's time to stop turning a blind eye to Washington profiteering."
Such a ban has widespread public support, but ultimately, the same members accused of insider trading will be the ones responsible for passing the bill, giving it long odds of success.
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