By Daniella Diaz, CNN
Two senators from different sides of the aisle have both introduced similar bills that would ban lawmakers and their families from buying and selling stocks while in office.
Democratic Sen. Jon Ossoff of Georgia introduced a bill this week with fellow Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly of Arizona called the Ban Congressional Stock Trading Act, which would require lawmakers, their spouses and dependent children to place their stock portfolios into blind trusts. If passed, the legislation would not allow lawmakers to use inside information to trade stocks and make money.
Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri introduced a very similar bill Wednesday called the Banning Insider Trading in Congress Act, which would also ban lawmakers from trading stocks while in office.
There are some key differences between the two proposals: Ossoff’s legislation would apply the ban to any dependent children in addition to the spouses, while Hawley’s bill would not. Also, Ossoff’s legislation would have the congressional Ethics Committee oversee the issue, while Hawley’s bill would have the Government Accountability Office audit.
And probably the biggest difference: Ossoff’s legislation would fine the lawmakers from their salaries if they broke the law, while Hawley’s would require lawmakers in the wrong to return their profits to the American people through the Treasury Department.
A similar bipartisan bill was introduced on the House side, led by Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger of Virginia and Republican Rep. Chip Roy of Texas, that would require lawmakers to put their assets into qualified blind trusts when they enter office.
The bills from the senators come after an investigation by Business Insider found that 52 members of Congress had violated the federal STOCK Act which is meant to stop insider trading by government officials.
The issue of lawmakers trading stocks has gained traction on Capitol Hill in recent weeks and has widespread bipartisan support but is unlikely to get a vote in the House while Nancy Pelosi is the House speaker because of her opposition to the legislation.
Pelosi said during a news conference last month she doesn’t think members or members’ spouses should be banned from trading in individual stocks while serving in Congress.
“No,” the California Democrat said when asked about a ban. “We have a responsibility to report on the stock. But I’m not familiar with that five-month review. But if the people aren’t reporting, they should be.”
When pressed why members shouldn’t be halted from trades while they serve in Congress, Pelosi dismissed the need for a ban, saying, “This is a free market and people — we are a free market economy. They should be able to participate in that.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s office did not respond to CNN’s request for comment on the proposals.
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