Meet The Congress Critters Who Opposed Ban On Insider Trading

09/02/2012 17:18
 

 

“Send me a bill that bans insider trading by members of Congress,” President Obama told the assembled members of the House and Senate in his State of the Union address last week, “and I will sign it tomorrow.”

If only it were that simple.

The Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act, a bill that prohibits legislators and federal officials from knowingly profiting off of nonpublic information related to impending legislation and regulatory decisions, looks certain to pass the Senate this week. On Monday, senators overwhelmingly approved a motion to cloture on S.2038 preventing the bill from being filibustered. But on Wednesday in the House of Representatives Reps. Tim Walz, D-Minn., and Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y.,  demanded a straight up or down vote on a different bill, HR 1148, also known as the STOCK Act. The House bill already has 271 sponsors.

And therein lies a tale of Washington. No one in Washington favors allowing Capitol Hill insiders using non-public information to reap profits — at least not publicly. But privately, well, that’s a different story.

The Senate version of the STOCK Act differs from the House version in crucial ways.  The House bill regulates the so-called political intelligence industry, which consists of lobbyists and private businesses who milk information from members of Congress and their staff and sell it to hedge funds and other investors. The House bill requires people in the political intelligence industry to register as lobbyists. The Senate bill merely calls for study of this obscure sector of the Washington economy, which is worth an estimated $100 million, according to the Wall Street Journal.

As the Journal explained last year:

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