STOCK Act headed for final passage

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The Senate is expected to vote before the end of next week on a weaker House-passed version of legislation clarifying that members of Congress are subjected to federal anti-fraud laws covering stock trading and requiring them to publicly to disclose transactions on a timely basis.
The Senate-passed version of the bill has two provisions not in the House bill. One makes it easier for prosecutors to pursue corruption by public officials and the other requires people who gather political intelligence from Congress to register as federal lobbyists.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., announced Tuesday that authorizing a conference committee to negotiate the difference between the two bills would take weeks and require many hours of Senate floor time.
Instead, Reid said the Senate will vote on the House version of the STOCK (Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge) Act, a move which would allow the bill to be sent to the president for his signature.
“I’ve tried and tried and tried to get agreement to go to conference,’’ Reid told reporters midday Tuesday. “I haven’t done that yet, so I’m looking at other ways to move forward.’’
Later in the afternoon, Reid filed a procedural motion that could force a vote as soon as Thursday. But it’s more likely to be early next week.
Democratic Rep. Louise Slaughter of Monroe County, the original author of the bill when it was introduced in 2006, issued a statement Tuesday expressing disappointment.
“It’s no secret that the bill passed by the House is not as strong as the legislation that I wrote,’’ Slaughter stated. “I believe we need to hold the $402 million a year political intelligence industry accountable by requiring those profiting so handsomely from it to register the same way as lobbyists. I am anxiously awaiting to see what the Senate is able to do.”
New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, one of the lead sponsors of the Senate version of the bill, wants to get a version of the bill to the president’s desk, according to spokeswoman Bethany Lesser.
“While she would have preferred the stronger Senate bill she helped write that took additional steps, this strong bill with teeth is a good step forward that will make members of Congress play by the same exact set of rules as other Americans,’’ Lesser stated. “She will continue working across the aisle to add provisions the House removed going forward. “
New York Sen. Chuck Schumer also looked at the positive side.  “While this bill didn’t have everything we wanted, it is an important step forward,” Schumer stated. “From now on there will be no doubt that insider trading by members of Congress and their staffs is against the law.”

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