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The battle of the bills

The PELOSI Act is a rewrite of a bill that Hawley proposed in the 117th Congress, which failed to get a single cosponsor. But there’s another very similar bill in Congress that stands more of a chance of passing because of its bipartisan support.

On Jan. 12, Reps. Abigail Spanberger of Virginia and Chip Roy of Texas, joined by a bipartisan alliance of 35 cosponsors, reintroduced the Transparent Representation Upholding Service and Trust in Congress Act, or TRUST, for the third time.

“We saw tremendous momentum, we saw growing support in our districts, and we saw growing recognition across the political spectrum that such a reform needs to be made now,” Spanberger said in a statement.

“Our TRUST in Congress Act would demonstrate that lawmakers are focused on serving the interests of the American people — not their own stock portfolios.”

The issue these laws seek to resolve

If passed, both PELOSI and TRUST would ban members of Congress, their spouses and children from trading individual stocks and force them to place their investment assets into blind trusts.

Both pieces of legislation aim to address the advantage that politicians have as well-connected people with the inside track on new legislation that might affect a company or an industry.

“While Wall Street and Big Tech work hand-in-hand with elected officials to enrich each other, hard-working Americans pay the price,” Hawley said in his PELOSI Act announcement. “The solution is clear: we must immediately and permanently ban all members of Congress from trading stocks.”

While insider insights don’t make them clairvoyant, it’s certainly an advantage when it comes to trading in the stock market.

A survey, commissioned by conservative advocacy group Convention of States Action last year, showed that more than 75% of voters believe lawmakers have an unfair advantage when trading — and those feelings aren’t unfounded.

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And a report from Business Insider revealed that 72 members of Congress didn’t report their financial trades as they are mandated to do by the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act of 2012.

But an even larger investigation from the Wall Street Journal revealed thousands of Washington officials are taking part in ethically gray trading.

PELOSI and TRUST would aim to reduce that by requiring senior officials and others affected by the bill to either sell their holdings when they take their position in Congress or put them into a blind trust, where they would have no control over the trades.

They would still, however, be able to purchase diversified ETFs, diversified mutual funds, and U.S. Treasury bills, notes or bonds.

“The American people are tired of seeing members of Congress making pretty significant profits while they’re voting on the very policies that affect the corporations they’re meeting with on a regular basis,” Roy told Fox Business.

Pelosi’s play gets shot down

Despite being targeted for alleged insider trading, even Pelosi has championed a bill trying to tackle the problem in Congress.

The bill introduced by Democrats last September, called the Combating Financial Conflicts of Interest in Government Act, also aimed to limit investing conflicts of interest for politicians and their families.

However, that bill was heavily criticized by both sides of the House for lacking teeth and including a built-in loophole around the blind trust requirement.

With more cosponsors than ever before, Spanberger and Roy’s TRUST currently stands the best chance of passing and rebuilding trust with the American public.

“We need to do something to stop that breach of trust that is apparent to the American people that we seem to be day trading while we’re supposed to be doing the work of the American people,” Roy said in an interview with Fox Business.

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About the Author

Bethan Moorcraft

Bethan Moorcraft

Reporter

Bethan Moorcraft is a reporter for Moneywise with experience in news editing and business reporting across international markets.

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