Sagging approval ratings brought Democrats and Republicans together Thursday, as the Senate passed a bill to explicitly prevent members of Congress, their top aides and administration officials from using non-public information for insider trading. New disclosure requirements will require public reports online within 30 days of buying and selling stock.
The 96-3 vote sent the bill to the House, where Majority Leader Eric Cantor said the legislation would be considered next week.
Senators in both parties acknowledged the purpose of the legislation was to help dig members of Congress out from poll approval ratings that have fallen to the teens after a year of excessive partisanship pervading almost every issue before Congress.
“When polls show low public confidence in Congress, there is a strong desire to address the concerns that underpin the public’s skepticism,” said Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, one of the bill’s managers.
President Barack Obama praised the Senate and said he’s ready to sign a bill known as the STOCK Act, which stands for Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge.
“No one should be able to trade stocks based on nonpublic information gleaned on Capitol Hill,” the president said. “So I’m pleased the Senate took bipartisan action to pass the STOCK Act. I urge the House of Representatives to pass this bill, and I will sign it right away.”
Obama said still more ethics restrictions were needed, “like prohibiting elected officials from owning stocks in industries they impact.”
Several amendments were added to the bill before final passage.
Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., won an amendment to include the 28,000 government workers in the executive branch in the bill, saying it would create a level playing field with the requirements for Congress. But the same amendment included conflicting language by Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., that would apply to only 2,000 top policymakers – including the president, vice president and members of the Federal Reserve Board.
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