Progressives responded with indignation Tuesday after Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the second-ranking Democrat in the House, stated his opposition to popular legislation that aims to restrict widespread stock trading by members of Congress, their spouses and dependent children, senior government officials and federal judges, including those on the Supreme Court.
Hoyer, the House majority leader and No. 2 in the leadership after Speaker Nancy Pelosi, reportedly indicated during meetings with colleagues that he intends to vote against a bill that would reform the loophole-ridden STOCK Act when it is brought to the floor, which could happen as soon as this week.
“Shameful,” progressive champion Nina Turner, a former Ohio state senator and co-chair of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2src2src presidential campaign, tweeted in response to the news.
As Punchbowl News reported Tuesday:
Lawmakers, judges, and all other government officials covered by the ban will have to choose between divesting their investment portfolios or putting their assets in a qualified blind trust. Members of the judicial branch will have to file more detailed financial disclosures.
The House is supposed to vote on the Democratic measure this week. But the text hasn’t been released yet. And we’re told there are serious concerns within leadership ranks about the proposal.
The House leadership doesn’t currently have the votes to pass the bill given the number of rank-and-file Democrats who are “actively opposed,” according to one source—especially in the face of what looks like solid GOP opposition. A lot could change between now and later this week, but that’s where things stand at this moment.
So there’s a question of whether this bill even comes to the floor. Several senior Democratic aides told us they’re skeptical the legislation will be voted upon during a three-day workweek right at the end of the fiscal year.
Hoyer’s office told the outlet’s managing editor Heather Caygle that “Leader Hoyer absolutely agrees insider trading must continue to be illegal and substantially penalized; he would like to see increased penalties for members of Congress who violate these laws including an ethics citation and potential expulsion from Congress for such violations.”
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“He has also not seen final legislation, and will reserve his official decision until that time,” Hoyer’s office added.
While the House Rules Committee is expected to review the bill when it meets to consider the continuing resolution to extend government funding and prevent a shutdown, time is running short. Lawmakers are set to leave Capitol Hill on Friday until Nov. 14, which means this week marks the last opportunity to vote on the measure before the midterm elections.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — who only recently dropped her opposition to the bill that would likely rein in her husband’s suspiciously timed buying and selling of corporate shares — and other Democrats have “said several times recently that the House would vote on legislation to tighten trading rules by the end of September,” Punchbowl News noted. “Republicans will surely lambaste Democrats if they adjourned for the election without voting on the measure.”
As journalist Alex Sammon pointed out on social media, “Democratic House leadership [is] shooting down a wildly popular messaging bill right before the midterms.”
The legislation can be considered a messaging bill because, as Common Dreams reported two weeks ago, the Senate already announced that it is postponing a vote on its version of the stock trading ban until after the Nov. 8 elections.
“Across the entire federal government, there have been significant stories regarding financial conflicts of interest in relation to stock trading and ownership,” House Administration Committee Chair Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., wrote last week in a letter to colleagues. “Collectively, these stories undermine the American people’s faith and trust in the integrity of public officials and our federal government.”