ATLANTA – U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff, D-Ga., is appealing to congressional Republicans in his push to ban members of Congress from trading stocks.
Ossoff told reporters Wednesday he has spoken with a dozen Republican senators about signing onto a bill he introduced last month banning stock trading by members of Congress.
Eight House Republicans already are on board with the idea, he said.
“Members of Congress have extraordinary access to confidential information,” Ossoff said. “We shouldn’t be permitted to trade stocks.”
Ossoff’s legislation, cosponsored by Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., would require members of Congress, their spouses and dependent children to place their stock portfolios into a blind trust, something Ossoff did last year.
Violators of the ban would face fines up to the amount of their congressional salary.
The idea of banning the buying and selling of stocks by members of Congress began gaining momentum in 2020 after several lawmakers – including then-Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler of Georgia – became the subject of press reports that they sold a large number of stock shares following a briefing by health officials about the coronavirus pandemic.
While denying any wrongdoing, Perdue restructured his retirement savings to eliminate individual stock trades, while Loeffler liquidated her family’s holdings in stocks in individual companies and moved those investments into exchange-traded funds and mutual funds.
Bipartisan legislation banning stock trading by members of Congress was introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives last year by Reps. Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., and Chip Roy, R-Texas.
A third bill applying only to members of Congress but not their families was introduced last month by Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo.
Indeed, the debate over banning stock trading is shaping up to be bipartisan. The idea not only enjoys bipartisan support but faces bipartisan opposition.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said last month she trusts existing reporting requirements governing members of Congress to prevent insider trading without the need for a ban.
Ossoff said he’s undaunted by opposition to his bill.
“Members of Congress should not be permitted to trade stocks while in office,” he said Wednesday. “If that ruffles some feathers, so be it.”
This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.