Sen. Jon Ossoff, D-Ga., plans to introduce a bill barring members of Congress and their immediate families from trading individual stocks in the stock market but is awaiting bipartisan support from Republicans, according to a congressional aide familiar with the bill.
This bill comes after a December investigation by Business Insider revealing that 52 members of Congress violated the federal STOCK Act meant to prevent conflicts of interest and stop insider trading by government officials.
It also comes at the heels of the Monday resignation of Richard Clarida, the second highest official in the Federal Reserve, over questionable trading activity early in the pandemic.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has spoken out against barring individual stock trades by members of Congress and the Senate, and reports by Business Insider show that Pelosi’s husband had holdings in various tech companies that spend millions lobbying the government, including corporations like Tesla, Disney, Alphabet (formerly Google) and Meta (formerly Facebook).
“We are a free-market economy. They should be able to participate in that,” Pelosi said in a Dec. 15 press conference.
Ossoff has previously expressed support for a ban in an October interview with Bloomberg and has himself placed his stock portfolio in a blind trust as of June, according to a press release by Ossoff’s office.
Politicians like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., have expressed support for the ban.
“There is no reason members of Congress should hold and trade individual stock when we write major policy and have access to sensitive information. There are many ways members can invest w/o creating actual or appeared conflict of interest, like thrift savings plans or index funds,” Rep. Ocasio-Cortez tweeted on Dec. 17.
Legislators in Congress have repeatedly introduced bills to ban members of Congress from trading individual stocks.
In January 2021, Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., and Republican Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, reintroduced legislation in the House to require all members of Congress, as well as their spouses and children, to put investment assets into a qualified blind trust, with the goal of preventing insider trading.
Another bill, the Ban Conflicted Trading Act, was introduced in the House in March of last year, but only prevented trades for members of Congress and senior staffers, not their family members.
Michelle Shen is a Money & Tech Digital Reporter for USA TODAY. You can reach her @michelle_shen10 on Twitter.