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Pelosi opens the door to stock trading ban for members of Congress

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told reporters she doesn't think new laws governing lawmakers' investments are needed, but if members want one she would go along with it.
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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told reporters she doesn't think new laws governing lawmakers' investments are needed, but if members want one she would go along with it.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who has opposed new legislation banning members of Congress from trading individual stocks, signaled Thursday she is open to advancing it — if it has the support of her caucus.

"I just don't buy into it, but if members want to do that I'm OK with that," Pelosi told reporters at her weekly press conference.

The speaker said she didn't believe the step was necessary because she trusted her colleagues and that existing laws currently require regular disclosure. "I have great confidence in the integrity of my members," Pelosi said.

Still, she has asked the House Administration Committee to review the STOCK Act, the law requiring members regularly report trades and file reports within 45 days, and said she is open to increasing fines for lawmakers who fail to comply with the deadlines. She added the committee is reviewing all the bills proposed on new reforms.

Pelosi said if there are concerns that a member is engaged in insider trading "that's a Justice Department issue." Existing laws give prosecutors the ability to charge lawmakers with insider trading.

In recent weeks there's been a renewed push by members in both parties to ban lawmakers from making individual stock picks. Several bills have been proposed in the House and Senate. Some would cover just members of Congress, others would apply the ban to spouses and family members.

Pelosi doesn't trade stocks, but her husband Paul Pelosi does, and his regular reports filed under the current rules are closely followed by many investors, who say his record making profitable decisions is worth copying. A recent NPR story notes some have set up notifications that younger investors on TikTok follow when his reports are made public.

Recently, House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy of California said he backs the idea and is looking at the details. Republicans on Capitol Hill are split on the issue. Some say the current system of public disclosure is adequate, and others say public opinion of Congress is so low that any measure that removes any appearance of a conflict makes sense.

Pelosi wants to extend disclosure rules to Supreme Court

Pelosi noted that while the legislative branch has rules for disclosing investment transactions, the justices on the U.S. Supreme court do not.

She said decisions made at the high court impact "every subject you can name."

"I don't think the court should be let off the hook," the speaker said. She pointed to recent comments by Chief Justice John Roberts alluding to reports about judges avoiding any appearances of conflicts of interest.

Pelosi made it clear any new legislation would include provisions adding new rules for the Supreme Court. "When we go forward with anything let's take the Supreme Court with us to have disclosure," she said.

The House did pass a bipartisan bill in December that added disclosure rules for federal judges, but the Senate has not taken up the measure.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Deirdre Walsh is the congress editor for NPR's Washington Desk.