Democrats rebel against Pelosi over congressional stock negotiation

Democrats are equally eager to compare their position to that of Ms. Pelosi. His adamant refusal in December to consider a stock trading ban made the issue a cause celebre. Two weeks ago, still under fire, she told reporters, “I just don’t buy into it, but if the members want to do it, I’m okay with that.”

“Speaker, I don’t want to call him outright, but a handful of members have put decades and decades here. They’re approaching this from a different time and from a different perspective,” Ms. Stevens, who almost certainly faced another Democrat, Andy Levin, in the upcoming House primaries in redistricted Michigan.Both signed last week’s letter demanding action on a trade ban.

Democratic leaders remain wary. They argue that once Congress starts trying to regulate its own members outside of investments, it’s hard to draw the line between what’s allowed and what’s not. If stock ownership is prohibited because it could conflict with the law, would having student loan debt make it inappropriate for a member to lobby for loan relief? Would owning real estate confer an undue personal interest in environmental or land-use policy?

Mr. Roy admitted that there were complexities, but, he said, a line must be drawn.

“If you’re talking dirt, well, are you talking about your family farm or engaging in thousands of real estate transactions?” He asked. “Are you buying and selling and engaging in developing commercial real estate transactions while you’re in Congress?” There are limits to what we are supposed to do.

Drew Hammill, Ms Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff, said the speaker had asked Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a California Democrat and chair of the House Administration Committee, to look into the non-compliance with the existing Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) law, and that she could support increased penalties under that 2012 law, which requires lawmakers to disclose transactions.

Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, the House Majority Leader, said Wednesday that he continues to believe that lawmakers should be allowed to own and trade individual stocks, as long as they follow the laws on the insider trading.

For Democrats pushing for the stock ban, such opposition is for the best, at least politically. With such narrow margins in the House and Senate, Democrats facing tough re-election races have no leeway to try to show their independence by voting against major legislation, while hoping it passes – a common practice with larger majorities.

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