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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RepresentUs acquired 8,000 signatures on a petition asking Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez to keep working on a "revolving door" bill. Paula Barkan, Austin chapter leader of RepresentUs, handed the petition to Brandon Simon, Cruz's Central Texas regional director, on July 31.
Remember that tweet exchange in May between Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the one where they discussed bipartisan legislation to ban former members of Congress from becoming lobbyists?
To recap: Ocasio-Cortez tweeted her support for legislation banning the practice in light of a report by the watchdog group Public Citizen, which found that nearly 60 percent of lawmakers who recently left Congress had found jobs with lobbying firms. Cruz tweeted back, extending an invitation to work on such a bill. Ocasio-Cortez responded, "Let's make a deal."
The news cycle being what it is, it's easy to forget how the media jumped on the idea of the Texas Republican and the New York Democrat finding common ground on a government ethics proposal. Since then, we've collectively moved on — but not everyone forgot.
The government reform group RepresentUs recently drafted a petition asking Cruz and Ocasio-Cortez to follow through on their idea, gathering more than 8,000 signatures.
Sixty percent of young adults in the United States believe other people "can't be trusted," according to a recent Pew Research survey, which found that younger Americans were far more likely than older adults to distrust both institutions and other people. But adults of all ages did agree on one thing: They all lack confidence in elected leaders.
While united in a lack of confidence, the cohorts disagreed on whether that's a major problem. The study found that young adults (ages 18-29) were less likely than older Americans to believe that poor confidence in the federal government, the inability of Democrats and Republicans to work together, and the influence of lobbyists and special interest groups were "very big problems."