Jan. 13 (UPI) — Democratic Sens. Mark Kelly of Arizona and Jon Ossoff of Georgia introduced a bill Wednesday to prohibit Congress members from trading stocks while in office, a move that was followed by Republican Sen. Josh Hawley from Missouri introducing a similar bill of his own.
“Elected leaders have access to valuable information that impacts policy, the economy and entire industries,” Kelly said in a statement. “This legislation I am introducing with Sen. Ossoff will put an end to corrupt insider trading and ensure that leaders in Congress focus on delivering results for their constituents, not their stock portfolios.”
The Kelly-Ossoff bill, called the Ban Congressional Stock Trading Act, would require Congress members, their spouses and dependent children to either divest from their investments or put them into a blind trust within 120 days of assuming office and to stop dabbling in the market. Members of Congress who fall foul of the legislation would be fined their entire Congressional salary.
“Members of Congress should not be playing the stock market while we make federal policy and have extraordinary access to confidential information,” Ossoff said.
After Kelly and Ossoff announced their bill, Hawley unveiled his Banning Insider Trading in Congress Act that differs from that of the Democrats by not including dependent children as well as giving elected-officials and their spouses six months upon assuming office to divest their investments or place them in a blind trust, and punishment would consist of forfeit of any investment profits to the U.S. Treasury.
“Year after year, politicians somehow manage to outperform the market, buying and selling millions in stocks of companies they’re supposed to be regulating,” Hawley said in a statement. “Wall Street and Big Tech work hand-in-hand with elected officials to enrich each other at the expense of the country.”
The politicians introduced their bills as the American public appears to be shrinking from the idea of their elected representatives and their families seeking to profit from the stock market. According to a recent poll by the conservative advocacy organization Convention of States Action, 76% of voters are against the practice, The Hill reported.
Hawley announced his bill after talks between the Republican and Ossoff fell apart, Axios reported.