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Senators propose ban on individual stock holdings by members of Congress

Two Democratic senators, Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Sherrod Brown of Ohio, want to prevent a revival of ethically questionable investing on Capitol Hill by proposing legislation to prevent lawmakers and senior aides from trading in individual securities.

Their measure would build on some of the toughest ethical restrictions Congress has imposed on itself in recent years: Seven years ago, Congress passed the Stock Act, which focused on preventing members of Congress from using insider information to profit in the markets.

The bill faces at least initially uphill prospects in the Republican-run Senate. Roll Call reports it would give members six months to sell their portfolios or put them into blind trusts for the duration of their time in office. They would then be allowed to trade only in mutual funds. And members would be barred from the boards of public companies, a provision added to the House-passed political overhaul HR 1 after a GOP House member, Chris Collins of New York, was indicted last year for insider trading in a drug company on whose board he sat. The case was one of the highest-profile alleged ethical transgressions on the Hill in recent years, but Collins won anyway.

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