Senator Warren Pushes to Ban Congress from Owning Individual Stocks
In an interview with Business Insider, Senator and 2020 Democratic Presidential Candidate, Elizabeth Warren, said she is planning to introduce legislation that prevents members of Congress from owning or trading stocks. This comes after multiple members of Congress were accused of trading stocks that would be impacted by their own voting decisions during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Warren Tries to Block Congressional Trading
This is not the first time Senator Warren has tried to prevent members of congress from trading stocks. In 2018 and 2020, she introduced and subsequently reintroduced her “Anti-Corruption and Public Integrity Act”, which was designed to curb lobbying and corruption, making them a federal offense.
The act was also designed to expand financial disclosure requirements and make changes to presidential conflict of interest laws. Additionally, Senator Warren’s act would have brought more ethical scrutiny to lawmaking by creating an ethics agency to oversee federal employees, and requiring transition teams to develop ethics plans.
However, the Anti-Corruption and Public Integrity Act failed to get ratified both times it was brought to the Senate. Back then, Congress was Republican-controlled, and the highly partisan nature of contemporary US politics means that winning votes from the opposing side can be near-impossible. Although currently, the Democrats control both the Senate and the House of Representatives, and Warren now sits on the Senate Finance Committee, so her chances of success are considerably higher.
She called her act “a no-brainer”, and added:
“Congress should pass anti-corruption legislation and restore American’s faith in government by making it work for everyone — not just the rich and powerful”.
This is in line with Warren’s political image of directly taking on the billionaire class, such as when she took on 2020 Democratic Candidate Mike Bloomberg during debates.
Warren has not given details on when she will be introducing legislation to curb congressional trading, although it will be before January 2023, as this is when the congressional session concludes. It is also not clear whether she will be re-introducing and slightly tweaking her Anti-Corruption and Public Integrity Act, or if she will bring forth a new act entirely.
COVID has Reignited the Topic
The concept of congressional figures trading stocks has been a contentious point dating as far back as the 2008 financial crisis. One of the most significant pieces of legislation surrounding this came from the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act, introduced in 2012.
Its purpose was to:
“Prohibit Members of Congress and employees of Congress from using nonpublic information derived from their official positions for personal benefit”.
While congressional trading is always discussed in the media, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought more attention to it than ever. Numerous members of Congress were suspected of, or investigated for, stock trading during the pandemic, where they used their knowledge of upcoming legislative matters as leverage.
One prominent case was Republican Senator Richard Burr, who was accused of selling his shares worth around $1.7 million just before concerns around COVID caused the markets to crash. Another case is Democratic Representative Tom Malinowski, who is currently being investigated for investing in medical companies that built COVID-related goods such as ventilators, vaccines, and PPE.
The fact that members of congress have been spotted activity trying to make gains off one of the most economically and morally crushing events in the century is damning, to say the least. Profiting off of the pandemic, when so many people have become financially and medically impoverished, shows a disconnect between lawmakers and the people they serve.
What do you think of Warren’s plans to ban congressional stock trading? Let us know in the comments!