In a rare display of bipartisan unity, the Senate passed the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act by a 96 to 3 vote margin on Thursday, according to the Associated Press.
President Barack Obama has indicated that he will sign the bill. The version that the Senate approved is a watered down version of the bill, which explicitly bans members of Congress, the president and other federal workers from profiting from nonpublic information gleaned from their oversight work.
The lawmakers who voted no on the procedural motion were Republican Sens. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, Richard Burr of North Carolina and Charles Grassley of Iowa, said the AP.
The bill was introduced six years ago, but caught fire in recent months due to anti-Congress sentiment spreading among voters, said The Washington Post. Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.), one of the sponsors of the legislation, said, "We took a step toward ending the deficit of trust that’s hurting our democracy. . . . The STOCK Act will affirm that members of Congress are not above the law."
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The Post noted that the original legislation clarified insider trading restrictions in Congress and required monthly disclosures of financial trades, more stringent than the measure that passed today.
In Feb., the Senate approved a tougher version of the bill which would have included laws against bribery, theft of public money and other types of public corruption, said Politico. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell went ahead with the House-passed version of the bill which excluded these measures, angering some lawmakers.
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Other provisions in the bill included a ban on bonuses for senior executives of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, activity disclosures for the political intelligence industry and a strengthening of anti-corruption laws that were ruled insufficiently vague by the Supreme Court, said The Post.
Rep. Louise Slaughter, a Democrat from New York who has been trying to crack down on insider trading in Congress for years, praised the vote though she conceded it did not go far enough. "You're never defeated until you stop. We can always start tomorrow or next week to put in what we wanted to put in," she said, according to Politico.
The overwhelming vote in favor of the measure showed a Congress eager to regain public trust, said The New York Times. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Me.) said, "At a time when public confidence in Congress is so low we must act to remove any doubt that the law and rules against insider trading apply to members of Congress."
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