House passes STOCK Act with near unanimous support

WASHINGTON – The U.S. House passed the STOCK Act Thursday that bars members of Congress and their staff from trading stocks based on information they learn from their official duties. The vote was 417-2 with all of Minnesota’s delegation voting for the legislation.

1st District DFL Congressman Tim Walz introduced the bill with Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY). It had languished in Congress for six years until a 60 Minutes report on congressional insider trading aired last fall that raised questions about stock transactions made by high-ranking members of Congress.

In a speech shortly before the bill passed, Walz said it was a “no-brainer” for Congress.

“We’re not here to pat ourselves on the back,” said Walz. “This might be the only place where doing the right thing gets you kudos, it’s expected of everyone else.”

The Senate has passed a similar bill with some important differences that must be worked out between the two chambers before President Obama can sign it into law.

In particular, a provision championed by Slaughter would have required firms which collect information about pending congressional moves and sell it to Wall Street traders to register as lobbyists are required to. Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor opposed that measure, stripping it from the House bill and replacing it with a study on the so-called political intelligence firms.

“I’m disappointed the political intelligence piece isn’t in here,” said Walz, who added, “We can’t wait for the perfect to move something forward so I think this is a good bipartisan compromise.”