Insider trading bill advances in the Senate

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Bipartisan legislation that would require members of Congress to disclose financial trades on a more timely basis cleared a key Senate procedural vote on Monday.
Under the STOCK Act, for Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge, lawmakers would have 30 days to post online any trade of least $1,000.
The legislation aims to clarify that members of Congress and their employees are subject to the same federal anti-fraud laws that prohibit other Americans from making stock trades based on insider knowledge.
Monday’s vote was 93-2 to take up the bill and allow amendments. Sixty votes were needed for the measure to move forward. A final vote is expected later this week.
Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, who joined fellow Republican Richard Burr of North Carolina in opposing the bill, said in an interview the legislation is unnecessary. A simple signed statement by lawmakers attesting that they had not violated the law would serve the same purpose without as much bureaucracy, he said.
“Why are we playing a game with the American people?’’ Coburn asked.
The White House said Monday it “strongly supports’’ the bill, which it said “makes clear that members and employees of Congress owe a duty arising from their position of trust and confidence not to use nonpublic information obtained by virtue of their position for personal benefit.’’
Monday’s vote allows senators to begin offering amendments that could replace the 30-day reporting period with a shorter time frame. Currently, members of Congress are required only to file annual statements of personal wealth that report their assets in broad ranges.
“I have heard a number of amendments that are being considered to make it tougher or clearer or add other provisions,’’ said Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, one of the lead sponsors of the Senate bill.
Sens. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., and Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., have proposed an amendment that would permanently ban congressional earmarks.
Federal law enforcement agencies say they need timely data in order to analyze whether lawmakers are using privileged information for financial gain.
The STOCK Act may be just the first in a flurry of bills lawmakers introduce this year in response to polls showing public confidence in them is at an all-time low.
Gillibrand plans to offer separate legislation to increase transparency that would, among other things, require the Supreme Court to televise its proceedings.
House Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia plans to schedule a floor vote on an expanded version of the STOCK Act in February, according to spokeswoman Laena Fallon.
“Building upon the Senate bill, this common-sense proposal will not only deal with insider trading of stocks, but also prevent all federal officials and employees from using insider information for profit in other areas in a constitutionally sound way,’’ Fallon said. “As Leader Cantor has said, he strongly supports increased disclosure to prevent any sense of impropriety and ensure the public’s confidence and trust in our elected officials.”
The original STOCK Act was proposed in 2006 by Democratic Rep. Louise Slaughter of Fairport and former Rep. Brian Baird of Washington state. The current House bill has 254 sponsors, with 218 votes needed for passage.

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  1. Like other toothless disclosure requirements for Congress, what will the individual representatives “disclosure” disclose? ‘Purchased between one and 500,000 shares of IBM?’