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Pelosi open to stricter stock trading rules for members of Congress

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she’s open to legislation that would enact stiffer penalties on stock trading for members of Congress, reversing her previous opposition as bipartisan pressure mounts to implement an outright ban. The California Democrat maintained at a press conference Thursday that she has “great confidence in the integrity of my members,” but noted she would consider additional restrictions if proposals gained support. “I do come down always in favor of trusting our members. If the impression that is given by some that somebody is doing insider trading, that’s a Justice Department issue and that has no place in any of this,” Pelosi said. “To give a blanket attitude of ‘We can’t do this and we can’t do,’ because we can’t be trusted, I just don’t buy into that. But if members want to do that, I’m okay with that,” she added. Pelosi’s latest remarks came as lawmakers from both parties are push for stricter rules or a total ban on stock trades by members of Congress. Proponents of a ban say individual stock holdings could represent a conflict of interest for lawmakers, who have access to sensitive information and are responsible for enacting laws regulating businesses. Pelosi drew scrutiny in December after she argued lawmakers should be allowed to trade stock as part of a “free-market economy.” The Post previously reported that Pelosi and her husband may have earned more than $30 million through bets on tech firms, even as the Biden administration and Congress move to regulate the industry. The Post also reported that Sens. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) and Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) have introduced a bill that would ban members of Congress, their spouses and dependent children from trading stocks while in office. Lawmakers would be required to place any assets in a blind trust. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) has introduced his own version of that bill. In the House, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) also suggested support for a ban. Last week, Pelosi asked members of the House Administration Committee to review the STOCK Act, an Obama-era regulation requiring lawmakers to disclose stock trades. The committee is exploring whether stiffer restrictions are needed. “If, in fact, we should have severer penalties for delay in reporting one’s stock [transactions], then do that. I’ve said to the House Administration Committee, review all the bills that are coming in and see which ones — where the support is in our caucus,” Pelosi told reporters on Thursday. Pelosi also argued that members of the Supreme Court should be held to a similar standard for personal stock transactions. “The United States Supreme Court, where decisions are made all the time that affect our environment, our workforce, our personal freedoms, every subject you can name at the mercy of the court…no disclosure whatsoever and certainly no STOCK Act,” Pelosi said. Earlier this week, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said President Biden would defer to Congress on whether to impose new restrictions on stock trades. This week, a poll by the progressive firm Data for Progress found that 67% of voters support a ban, a figure that increases to 74% when respondents are given arguments in favor and against the idea, Business Insider reported.

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