WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — The push to ban members of Congress from trading stocks is picking up steam on Capitol Hill, but the effort faces one major hurdle: the opposition of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
Despite growing calls to ban sitting members of Congress from trading stocks, Pelosi, D-Calif., pushed back.
“I do come down always in favor of trusting our members,” she said Thursday.’
Pelosi said she does not think insider trading is happening on Capitol Hill because it’s already illegal. She says it is a Justice Department issue. But she left the door open to raising penalties against members who don’t make their trades public.
A Business Insider report recently revealed that 54 lawmakers failed to properly disclose their trades last year.
“I’ve said to the House Adminsitration Committee, ‘Review all the bills,’” Pelosi said.
But many lawmakers say fines are not enough. Both Democrats and Republicans are pushing legislation to force members and their spouses to move their investments to a blind trust or mutual funds.
“It’s the right thing to do,” Rep. Sean Casten, D-Ill. said.
He said members of Congress have access to privileged information and can’t be allowed to use that knowledge for personal gain.
“We have access to new laws that may be coming out, we have the opportunity to meet with business leaders,” Casten said. “You can’t look at the returns that members of Congress have achieved and conclude that they’re not trading on inside information.”
Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., agrees. He accused Pelosi of objecting to the effort to protect her own wealth.
“She doesn’t want to debate this or bring it up for a vote,” he said. “I think it shows how much she profits personally.”
Hawley says he is willing to work with Democrats to pass a ban this year.