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Hawley, Ossoff Offer Dueling Stock-Trading Bans


  • Sens. Jon Ossoff and Josh Hawley announced competing stock ban proposals on Wednesday.
  • Ossoff’s bill is stronger and would fine members their entire congressional salary if they violate it.
  • A number of proposals to stop congressional stock-trading already exist, and momentum is building.

Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri and Democratic Sen. Jon Ossoff of Georgia are introducing competing bills to end stock-trading by members of Congress.

Insider has obtained the bill text for both Hawley’s ”Banning Insider Trading in Congress Act” and Ossoff’s “Ban Congressional Stock Trading Act.”

“Members of Congress should not be playing the stock market while we make federal policy and have extraordinary access to confidential information,” Ossoff said in a press release. Ossoff is teaming up with Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly of Arizona, who said the proposal would “put an end to corrupt insider trading.”

Following reports this week that House Minority leader Kevin McCarthy is interested in curtailing stock-trading by members, Hawley tweeted that it was a “good idea” before telling POLITICO on Tuesday that he was open to co-sponsoring a bill in the works from Ossoff, which would require members to place stock holdings into a blind trust.

But Axios reported on Wednesday that Hawley will be introducing his own bill separate from Ossoff, and that talks had fizzled between the two offices. Hawley and Ossoff are the two youngest members of the US Senate. 

A key difference between the proposals is reportedly that Ossoff’s bill includes dependent children — who may have access to the same privileged information as their lawmaking parent — while Hawley’s does not. The two also differ on the enforcement mechanism.

Violators of Ossoff and Kelly’s bill would be fined the entirety of their congressional salaries. The freshman senator narrowly defeated former Sen. David Perdue last year amid the Georgia Republican’s own stock-trading scandal.

On the other hand, Hawley’s bill would require violators to forfeit any profits gained from stock-trading directly to the US Treasury.

Ossoff and Kelly also noted that their bill is broadly similar to the bipartisan TRUST in Congress Act championed by Reps. Abigail Spanberger of Virginia and Chip Roy of Texas, which would require members and their family members to place stock holdings into a blind trust. Another bill, the Ban Conflicted Trading Act, has also garnered the support of House progressives and several Democratic senators.

Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has faced significant criticism — including from several lawmakers in her own party — since rejecting the idea of a ban last month. “We are free-market economy. They should be able to participate in that,” she told Insider.

As McCarthy has expressed interest in the idea, Democratic leaders have been slow to react.

Asked by Insider on Tuesday, both Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Democratic Caucus Chair Rep. Hakeem Jeffries dodged the question of whether they would support a stock-trading ban. “I don’t own any stocks,” said Schumer.

All of this follows Insider’s “Conflicted Congress” investigation, which found dozens of lawmakers and 182 senior congressional staffers in violation of the anti-insider trading Stop Trading on Conflicted Knowledge Act. Insider has also identified numerous examples of federal lawmakers trading stocks in industries they oversee as part of their congressional committee assignments, including within the defensehealthcare, and energy industries.

The idea of banning members of congress and their spouses from stock trading is also wildly popular, with up to 76% of the public behind it, according to recent polling.

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