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Ocasio-Cortez, Gaetz team up to ban lawmakers from stock trading

The bill would give members of Congress 90 days to divest their stock holdings.
Ocasio-Cortez, Gaetz team up to ban lawmakers from stock trading
Posted at 9:44 AM, May 04, 2023

An eclectic group of lawmakers has unveiled a bill that aims to prevent members of Congress from profiting off insider information by prohibiting them from owning and trading stocks.

The Bipartisan Restoring Faith in Government Act is sponsored by Republican Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick and Matt Gaetz, as well as Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Raja Krishnamoorthi.

“The fact that Members of the Progressive Caucus, the Freedom Caucus, and the Bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, reflecting the entirety of the political spectrum, can find common ground on key issues like this should send a powerful message to America,” Fitzpatrick said in a statement. "We must move forward on issues that unite us, including our firm belief that trust in government must be restored, and that Members of Congress, including their dependents, must be prohibited from trading in stocks while they are serving in Congress and have access to sensitive, inside information."

Ocasio-Cortez said the ability lawmakers have to trade stock has eroded the public's trust in elected officials.

"When Members have access to classified information, we should not be trading in the stock market on it. It's really that simple," she said.

SEE MORE: Senate Judiciary Committee holds hearing on Supreme Court ethics

Gaetz, who has long clashed with Ocasio-Cortez on various political issues, defended the congresswoman after the bipartisan bill was introduced. 

"AOC is wrong a lot — she'd probably say the same thing about me — but she's not corrupt," Gaetz told Fox News Tuesday. "And I will work with anyone and everyone to ensure that Congress is not so compromised."

U.S. lawmakers are allowed to buy and trade stocks in corporations but are required by law to publicly disclose their dealings under the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act. However, the STOCK Act has been less than successful. The penalty is quite small — typically about $200 — and is often waived by ethics committees anyway.

The act also doesn't stop lawmakers from sitting on committees, writing laws or voting on bills that may impact them financially.

According to a 2021 investigation by Insider, 54 members of Congress and about 180 high-level staffers violated the rule, with Alabama Rep. Tommy Tuberville having 132 violations alone.

Another example from Insider at the time showed that 15 lawmakers sitting on the House and Senate Armed Services committee, which shapes U.S. defense policy, all had investments or traded stocks of renowned contractors like Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Raytheon.

"Members of Congress must be focused on their constituents, not their stock portfolios," Rep. Krishnamoorthi said in a statement.

The new bill proposal would give members of Congress 90 days to divest their stock holdings. However, previous attempts to ban lawmakers from stock trading have stalled in Congress.

SEE MORE: Should Congress Be Able To Freely Trade Stocks?

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