House GOP accused of 'caving' to Wall St.

Feb. 8, 2012 at 6:01 PM
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WASHINGTON, Feb. 8 (UPI) -- House Republicans caught flak from both parties for deleting language on political intelligence firms from a bill that would ban congressional insider trading.

The House GOP removed a provision that would require political intelligence firms to register as lobbyists, drawing the ire of the White House and the Senate sponsor of that provision, a Republican, The Hill reported.

The removal of the Senate-passed language was revealed when the House caucus unveiled its version of the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act Tuesday.

White House spokesman Jay Carney accused Republicans of "caving to pressure from Wall Street lobbyists" and weakening the bill.

"I was shocked to see that even this simple bill that would ensure that everyone plays by the rules is weakened," he said Wednesday during the daily media briefing.

The office of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor Wednesday said the registration requirement was overly broad and that Democratic and Republican members had expressed concerns about who would be affected.

Cantor said his version of the bill, scheduled to be voted on Thursday, was "strengthened and expanded" by removing "unworkable" provisions.

The bill with the registration requirement cleared the Senate by a wide margin, 96-3, last week.

The Hill said the majority leader wanted to make certain the restrictions applied to congressional members also would apply to members of the executive branch.

Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, criticized the House version for not including his language requiring the registration of political intelligence firms, which market private congressional information to firms looking to make financial trades, The Hill reported.

"It's astonishing and extremely disappointing that the House would fulfill Wall Street's wishes by killing this provision," Grassley said in a statement. "If Congress delays action, the political intelligence industry will stay in the shadows, just the way Wall Street likes it."

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