- Biden did not call for a ban on congressional stock trading during his State of the Union address.
- The issue is becoming increasingly hot on the Hill and has broad bipartisan support from voters.
- A US House panel plans to meet next week to discuss such a ban, Insider reported.
President Joe Biden had a busy schedule on Tuesday night: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, COVID-19 resumption, inflation, public safety in American cities.
But his State of the Union address on Tuesday omitted any mention of his stance on whether members of Congress should be allowed to trade stocks, even as the issue heats up on Capitol Hill and enjoys a significant support among voters.
The omission of a stock trading ban may have been a last-minute change; the Washington Post reported that an earlier version of his speech called for a restriction on stock trading. The White House did not immediately respond to Insider’s questions about whether Biden planned to call for restrictions on stock trading in Congress.
The closest Biden has come to government reform has been checking the name of a separate, nearly dead-in-the-water ethics measure: the DISCLOSEwhich aims to shed light on secret “dark money” in elections.
By saying nothing on the matter in his speech, Biden continues to defer to Congress on whether to pass new laws regarding private investments by public officials. His silence on the issue also creates a political opening for House Republicans who plan to make a stock trading ban one of their signature pledges as they push to win back the House in of the 2022 elections.
Ten years ago, former Biden boss President Barack Obama asked Congress to send his office the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act.
“Send me a bill that bans insider trading by members of Congress; I’ll sign it tomorrow. Let’s ban any elected official from owning stocks in the industries they impact,” Obama said. noted in his January 2012 State of the Union Address.
Later that year, Obama signed the STOCK Act. He clarified that it was illegal for members of Congress to engage in insider trading. It also established rules stipulating that lawmakers must promptly disclose stock trades they make themselves or their spouses and dependent children make.
But there has been renewed attention to the shortcomings and shortcomings of the STOCK Act after Insider published its “Conflicted Congress” draft in December. The five-month survey found that at least 1 in 10 lawmakers and 182 senior congressional officials failed to comply with STOCK Act reporting requirements.
He also identified numerous conflict of interest issues. Dozens of lawmakers’ personal stock trades are at odds with their public responsibilities, such as members who craft smoke-free policy but invest in big tobacco and others who receive plaudits from environmental groups for crafting policy aimed at tackling the climate crisis – while investing in fossil fuel oil companies.
At least 15 lawmakers who sit on the House or Senate Armed Services Committees have invested in the stocks of defense systems and weapons companies, which together spend tens of millions of dollars each year to lobby the government federal government and get billions of dollars in government contracts. .
On Tuesday, Insider also reported that four members of Congress or their spouses currently or recently invested money in Russian companies at a time when Russia invaded Ukraine.
The insider report has prompted a new round of questions about whether members of Congress should be allowed to trade individual stocks. A ban has the support of most Democratic and Republican voters, according to several recent polls, and has prompted members of Congress to campaign on the issue.
Biden’s speech featured a “unity agenda” focused on opportunities for Democrats and Republicans to work together – to fight the opioid epidemic, tackle mental health disorders, help veterans and reduce cancer deaths.
Two bills, the Ban Conflicted Trading Act and the TRUST in Congress Act, enjoy bipartisan support. They would prevent members of Congress from trading stocks while in office, either by forcing them to hold existing investments while in office or by placing their assets in a blind trust. The main difference between the two bills is that the TRUST in Congress Act extends to spouses. Several other bills are also in the mix.
After initial resistance or reluctance, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer asked their caucuses to consider the issue.
The House Committee on Administration plans to hold a hearing on a stock trading ban next week.