House Speaker Nancy Pelosi came under attack Friday from lawmakers who were irked that a ban on members of Congress and their immediate families trading in individual stocks appeared dead for this session.
In mid-September, Pelosi indicated that a floor vote on such legislation would come this month, according to The Hill.
However, it was not until Tuesday that the House Administration Committee presented lawmakers with a 26-page bill that drew criticism from ethics experts, according to The Washington Post. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said a vote this week was impossible because members did not have time to read the bill.
Pathetic. This should be a slam dunk: ban members of Congress AND their spouses from owning stock. But no. Pelosi & Company won’t give up the $$$$ https://t.co/EbsFjMbioO
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) September 30, 2022
That led to an eruption from Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger of Virginia, who had been trying to craft a bipartisan package to ban lawmakers, their spouses and dependent children from selling, trading or buying individual stocks. Spanberger’s legislation called for lawmakers to put such assets in a blind trust within 90 days of taking office.
Paul Pelosi, the speaker’s husband, has been a major investor in the stock market, and this summer bought 20,000 shares of a company that deals in semiconductors while a bill that would provide generous subsidies for manufacturing them was making its way through Congress, according to the Daily Caller.
The nonprofit watchdog group Open Secrets estimated Nancy Pelosi’s net worth as $114 million in 2018, mostly from wealth derived from her husband’s real estate and investing firm.
Spanberger issued a statement excoriating Pelosi.
“Our job as elected officials is to serve the people — not ourselves. That’s why I’ve been proud to lead the charge on legislation to ban Members of Congress and their immediate families from trading individual stocks,” she said.
“I have worked with lawmakers from both parties — and across the ideological spectrum — to earn their support for my bipartisan bill, the TRUST in Congress Act, to require individual stock holdings be divested or placed in a qualified blind trust while in office. Our commonsense proposal demonstrated that many Democrats and Republicans alike take this issue seriously and are listening to the voices of the people,” she wrote.
In her statement, Spanberger said Pelosi appeared to change her position and support reform.
“However, our bipartisan reform coalition was then subjected to repeated delay tactics, hand-waving gestures, and blatant instances of Lucy pulling the football,” she wrote.
She said reaching the end of this House session without passage of her bill was a watershed event.
“The 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,”
“Rather than bring Members of Congress together who are passionate about this issue, leadership chose to ignore these voices, push them aside, and look for new ways they could string the media and the public along — and evade public criticism,” she wrote.
She said the legislation introduced this week was “a kitchen-sink package that they knew would immediately crash upon arrival, with only days remaining before the end of the legislative session and no time to fix it.
“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,” she wrote, adding that “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.”
Pelosi waved aside the criticism on Friday.
“First of all, her bill is contained in this bill,” Pelosi said, according to the Washington Examiner. “Other members had ideas to improve upon the bill.”
“Passing a stock trading bill before the midterms would have been a good faith sign to the voters that Congress takes its responsibility to the public interest seriously. And so obviously, that’s disappointing,” she said.
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