May 20, 2024
Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA) called for new leadership among House Democrats after a vote to ban congressional lawmakers from trading stocks was delayed in the lower chamber.

Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA) called for new House Democratic leadership after a vote to ban congressional lawmakers from trading stocks was stalled indefinitely in the lower chamber.

On Tuesday, Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) introduced the Combatting Financial Conflicts of Interest in Government Act prohibiting senior government officials and their family members from trading stocks after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) directed her to craft the legislation in February. However, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) indicated that the bill would not be voted on before the midterms.

“Probably no vote this week,” Hoyer told CNN on Friday, as congressional members leave to focus on their campaigns ahead of the midterm elections on November 8.

“I haven’t read it, it’s a complicated issue, as you can imagine, as a new rule for members they have to follow, and their families as I understand, so I think it deserves careful study to make sure if we do something, we do it right,”

Spanberger, who introduced similar legislation in early 2021, tore into the Democrat leadership officials for waffling around on bringing the bill to a vote.

“Our job as elected officials is to serve the people — not ourselves,” the Virginia Democrat said in a statement on Friday.

Spanberger continued:

For months, momentum grew in both the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate to finally take a step towards prohibiting Members of Congress from day trading while on the job. We saw remarkable progress towards rectifying glaring examples of conflicts of interest. And after first signaling her opposition to these reforms, the Speaker purportedly reversed her position. However, our bipartisan reform coalition was then subjected to repeated delay tactics, hand-waving gestures, and blatant instances of Lucy pulling the football.

The Virginia Democrat then called for a change of House leadership within her own party while accusing them of sabotaging the legislation so it would not pass:

This moment marks a failure of House leadership — and it’s yet another example of why I believe that the Democratic Party needs new leaders in the halls of Capitol Hill, as I have long made known. [Emphasis Added]

It’s apparent that House leadership does not have its heart in this effort, because the package released earlier this week was designed to fail. It was written to create confusion surrounding reform efforts and complicate a straightforward reform priority — banning Members of Congress from buying and selling individual stocks — all while creating the appearance that House Leadership wanted to take action.

The scathing criticism of Pelosi and other House Democrat leaders comes as Spanberger has made attempts within the past two years to convince voters she is a moderate politician. Nonetheless, she faces a tough reelection battle as recent polling shows Democrats at risk of losing the lower chamber to the GOP.

This is not the first time Spanberger has called out members of her own party, as she has previously expressed that her Democrat colleagues should “consider a different job” if a ban on trading stocks was a dealbreaker for them.

Pelosi shrugged off Spanberger’s criticisms at a Friday press conference, saying her ideas were already included in Lofgren’s legislation, the Hill reported.

“Her bill is in the bill, others had ideas too. And that’s what the committee put forth,” the Speaker told reporters. “But it’s good press because you asked a question.”

The Speaker also defended the House Democrat’s inability to bring the bill to the floor, saying,  “We have to have the votes to bring it up.”

Pelosi, along with her husband Paul, are among the highest earners in congress from stock trading.

The couple recently came under fire after they bought 20,000 shares of semiconductor stocks worth up to $5 million before the Senate was about to vote on a computer chip subsidy bill this summer. Paul Pelosi ended up selling his shares at a loss after facing mounting public criticism.

Lawmakers are required under the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act of 2012 to submit a periodic transaction report within 30 to 45 days of stock transactions over $1,000 made on their behalf or that of their spouses.

In 2011, Breitbart News Senior Contributor and Government Accountability Institute (GAI) Peter Schweizer rocked official Washington with his investigative revelations of insider trading by members of Congress. Left-leaning Slate hailed Schweizer’s blockbuster book on the topic, Throw Them All Out, “the book that started the STOCK Act stampede.”

The bipartisan STOCK Act (Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge) banned insider trading by members of Congress and was signed into law by President Barack Obama on April 4, 2012. The legislation received overwhelming support from both parties. One of the main figures featured in Schweizer’s Throw Them All Out, then-chairman of the House Financial Services Committee Spencer Bachus (R-AL), announced he would not seek reelection after the book’s reporting.

Indeed, Bachus was the only elected official the late Andrew Breitbart ever called on to resign.

CBS’s 60 Minutes did an investigative report on Schweizer’s revelations that won them the Joan Shorenstein Barone Award for excellence in Washington-based journalism.

You can follow Ethan Letkeman on Twitter at @EthanLetkeman.