Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand issued the following statement today after the bipartisan STOCK Act overwhelmingly passed a key procedural vote in the Senate 93 to 2, sending the bill to the Senate floor to begin formal debate on the legislation:
“Tonight’s vote was an important step forward to begin restoring the trust that’s been lost in our government,” said Senator Gillibrand, the first member of Congress to post her official daily schedule, all earmark requests and personal financial disclosure online. “We must now take the next step and pass this bill. The American people need to know that their elected leaders play by the exact same rules that they play by. They also deserve to know their lawmakers’ only interest is what’s best for the country, not their own financial interests. Members of Congress, their families and staff shouldn’t be able to gain personal profits from information they have access to that everyday middle class families don’t. It’s simply not right — nobody should be above the rules.”
In December, legislation based on Senator Gillibrand’s STOCK Act, now supported by more than two dozen Republicans and Democrats in the Senate, passed out of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. President Obama called on Congress in his State of the Union address Tuesday to pass this legislation and send it to his desk for signature.
The current legislation explicitly bars a member of Congress, their staff and all federal employees from engaging in insider trading or otherwise using nonpublic information for their own personal benefit, and clarifies that this provision constitutes a sufficient basis for the Securities and Exchange Commission to investigate and prosecute members of Congress engaging in insider trading – including the “tipping” of non-public information. By incorporating feedback from witnesses at the December 1 committee hearing, the legislation directly corrects the ambiguity in existing laws to ensure that members of Congress, their families and their staffs are fully covered by insider trading laws. The legislation is carefully crafted to not alter existing insider trading law, but to simply ensure that members of Congress, their families, their staff and federal employees are fully covered by it.
Additionally, the legislation further enhances disclosure requirements by requiring that members of Congress report stock and other major financial transactions within 30 days, dramatically less than the current annual reporting requirement, and reduced from the 90 days proposed in the original draft of the legislation. Additionally, the legislation would now require these reports and other financial disclosures to be posted online. The legislation also directs the Congressional Ethics Committees to write rules to enforce this provision. As a result, the legislation would empower the Ethics Committees, as well as the SEC, to enforce rules against insider trading by members of Congress and Congressional staff, but would not require the 67 vote threshold required to directly amend Senate rules in mid-session.
The STOCK Act is supported by at least seven government reform groups including: Campaign Legal Center, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, Common Cause, Democracy 21, Public Citizen, Sunlight Foundation and U.S. PIRG.