House passes its version of STOCK Act

Feb. 9, 2012 at 12:16 PM   |   0 comments

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WASHINGTON, Feb. 9 (UPI) -- The U.S. House of Representatives, on a 417-2 vote, handily approved legislation Thursday that would ban insider trading by members of Congress.

All Democrats voted in favor of the House version of the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act, despite complaints that Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Republicans diluted the Senate-passed version, The Hill reported.

The only two no votes were from Republicans -- John Campbell of California and Robert Woodall of Georgia.

The House version does not include language that would require political intelligence consultants to register as lobbyists -- a deletion that drew criticism from the White House and Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, who sponsored the provision in the upper chamber, which overwhelmingly approved its version of the STOCK Act last week.

The Senate language "raises an awful lot of questions," Cantor, R-Va., said. "I think there's a lot of discussion and debate about who and what would qualify and fall under the suggested language that came from the Senate."

The Cantor draft also dropped a bipartisan provision the Senate approved on a unanimous voice vote that would have restored some portions of a federal corruption law the Supreme Court unanimously rejected last year, The Washington Post said.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said many Democrats were reluctantly casting yes votes so the matter could be revisited in conference committee.

"Pass this bill, go to conference," she said. "It's very important that the House and Senate meet to discuss these very important issues. I don't want anyone to interpret the strong vote for it to be a seal of approval."

Republicans said they stripped the provision on political intelligence consultants because it was overly broad, instead mandating a federal study so recommendations could be made for the 2013 legislative session.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, R-Texas, said the House bill includes broader disclosure requirements, and would apply not only to the legislative branch, but also the executive and judicial branches.

"The American people deserve to know that no one in any branch of government can profit from their office," he said. "All three branches should be held to the same standard, because all three branches must be worthy of the public's trust."

The bill would also bar congressional members from receiving their pensions if they're convicted of a crime and would add language that would prohibit members of Congress from getting early access to initial public stock offerings, The Hill said.

Woodall said Wednesday said it was a disservice to Congress to presume it is legal for members engage in insider trading.

"The STOCK Act has been characterized … as to prevent insider trading by members of Congress, as if members of Congress are allowed to participate in insider trading today, and they are not," Woodall said.

The Post said the legislation was fast-tracked, meaning no amendments were allowed and a two-thirds majority was needed for passage.

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