Pa.’s Fetterman joins bipartisan push on congressional stock trading ban | Wednesday Morning Coffee

‘Lawmakers should not be able to profit off the same companies that they are regulating,’ he said

By: - April 19, 2023 7:10 am
(Photo courtesy of the office of U.S. Sen. John Fetterman, D-Pa.)

(Photo courtesy of the office of U.S. Sen. John Fetterman, D-Pa.)

It’s only been a day or so since U.S. Sen. John Fetterman returned to work on Capitol Hill, but the Pennsylvania Democrat has hit the ground running.

On Tuesday, Fetterman joined his colleagues to back a bipartisan, bicameral bill that would ban members of Congress, their spouses, and dependent minors from owning or trading stocks, commodities, or futures.

The bill is known as the ETHICS Act , or the ‘Ending Trading and Holdings in Congressional Stocks, Act’ because every bill on Capitol Hill needs to have a catchy acronym.

U.S. Sen Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., is sponsoring the Senate version of the bill, which has the support of more than 20 lawmakers in the 100-member chamber, Fetterman’s office said in a statement.

In the House, U.S. Reps. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., and Michael Cloud, R-Texas, are sponsoring companion legislationFetterman’s office said.

A proposed reduction to Pennsylvania's corporate net income tax could be included in this year's state budget.
(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

“Lawmakers should not be able to profit off the same companies that they are regulating. Letting members of Congress trade stocks opens the door to corruption,” Fetterman said during a press conference announcing the legislation. “Lawmakers should be focused on getting results for their constituents — not lining their own pockets.”

Fetterman backed a ban during his successful U.S. Senate campaign in 2022, bucking then-U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who initially said she wouldn’t support a ban — but later backtracked on the position.

Supporters of the ban have argued that the lure of a big payoff can pose too big a temptation when it comes to good policymaking.

On Tuesday, backers reinforced that argument.

“Members of Congress are held to serve the people, not their portfolios,” Merkley said at a news conference outside the Capitol, according to Insider. “That’s why we need to end the corrupt trading in individual stocks.”

According to Insider, the bill also “would require lawmakers to file their financial disclosures electronically, allowing for the creation of a searchable online database, and imposes steeper penalties for violations of the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act.”

The bill “does not include new restrictions on the Supreme Court, and in contrast to previous bills from Merkley, does not include restrictions on stock trading or ownership by staff,” Insider also reported.

U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., is also pushing a ban bill that would require lawmakers and their spouses who run afoul of it to “forfeit any investment profits to the American people via the U.S. Treasury,” the Washington Examiner reported, citing a statement released by Hawley’s office.

That bill has been dubbed the “Preventing Elected Leaders from Owning Securities and Investments Act,” or — it’s acronym time — the PELOSI Act.

Hawley is also backing a bill that would ban members of the executive branch from owning or trading stocks, the Washington Examiner reported.

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John L. Micek
John L. Micek

A 3-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's Editor-in-Chief. An award-winning political reporter, Micek’s career has taken him from small town meetings and Chicago City Hall to Congress and the Pennsylvania Capitol. His weekly column on U.S. politics is syndicated to 800 newspapers nationwide by Cagle Syndicate. He also contributes commentary and analysis to broadcast outlets in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. Micek’s first novel, “Ordinary Angels,” was released in 2019 by Sunbury Press.