A bipartisan group of House lawmakers have unveiled a bill that would prohibit members of Congress from owning and trading individual stocks, a proposal aimed at restoring public trust by preventing lawmakers from profiting off insider information.
In a sign that the measure enjoys support across the ideological spectrum, the Bipartisan Restoring Faith in Government Act is sponsored by GOP Reps. Matt Gaetz and Brian Fitzpatrick and Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Raja Krishnamoorthi.
"The fact that members of the Progressive Caucus, the Freedom Caucus, and the Bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, reflecting the entirety of the political spectrum, can find common ground on key issues like this should send a powerful message to America," Fitzpatrick said in a statement. "We must move forward on issues that unite us, including our firm belief that trust in government must be restored, and that members of Congress, including their dependents, must be prohibited from trading in stocks while they are serving in Congress and have access to sensitive, inside information. This is basic common sense and basic Integrity 101."
The bill would also prohibit members' spouses and any dependents from owning individual stocks or making trades, and require all members or covered family members who currently own individual stocks to divest or place them in a "qualified blind trust." The bill does not prohibit members and their families from investing in widely held investment funds or Treasury bonds, and allows for contributions to the government's retirement plan.
Ocasio-Cortez said the "ability to individually trade stock erodes the public's trust in government."
"When members have access to classified information, we should not be trading in the stock market on it. It's really that simple," she said.
The bill would give members 90 days to divest their stock holdings, and says House ethics officials must give prior approval to any blind trust.
The legislation is likely to face opposition in Congress, where many members have significant holdings. A 2012 law known as the STOCK Act allows members to buy and sell stocks, as long as they don't use inside information to conduct their trades and disclose those transactions.
Ocasio-Cortez, Gaetz and Krishnamoorthi were among those who supported a bill introduced last year that would have banned stock ownership by lawmakers and senior staffers. Other attempts to restrict stock trading and ownership have stalled in recent years.