The STOCK act, legislation to ban members of Congress from benefiting from insider stock trading, will move forward in Congress after all.
The Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act had been stalled in Congress since early last month, after the Senate and the House of Representatives each passed their own versions but could not agree on one bill.
Rather than send the two competing bills to a conference committee to hash out the differences, as is typically done on Capitol Hill, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., announced late this afternoon that the Senate will stop their push for their own bill and will now take up the House-passed legislation instead.
Reid said he filed cloture on a "motion to concur" with the House bill, for the sake of getting something passed more quickly.
"It's my hope that we can resolve this matter expeditiously, thereby make clear Congress' intent to prohibit insider trading by members of Congress," Reid said on the Senate floor.
This move allows for no amendments to be offered in the Senate, setting up final passage of the insider trading bill Thursday.
In a statement issued this evening, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said he is pleased the Senate will be taking up the House-passed bill.
"Members on both sides of the aisle and both sides of the Capitol have worked hard on this issue and deserve tremendous credit for their efforts," Cantor said. "Insider trading by members of Congress is unacceptable, and the STOCK Act will ensure the public knows that the same rules apply to elected officials as everyone else. The House worked to strengthen the STOCK Act and expanded provisions to fully cover the executive branch."
This issue had not been resolved yet because the House and Senate could not agree on one piece of legislation. After the Senate passed its legislation and sent it over to the House in early February the House made changes to the bill. House Democrats complained that the House bill was weaker than the Senate-passed legislation because it eliminated a political intelligence registration requirement and dropped anti-corruption legislation.
Republicans, on the other hand, said the changes made it stronger because they added provisions expanding the scope of the bill "to fully cover the Executive Branch" and ensure that members of Congress convicted of a crime do not receive taxpayer-funded pensions.
Republicans argue they have strengthened the Senate's legislation by, among other changes, adding a provision that implicitly targets House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. That provision amends the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 to stipulate that members of Congress "may not purchase securities that are the subject of an initial public offering … in any manner other than is available to members of the public generally."
Reid's decision to stomach a bill perceived by Democrats to be weaker may be mindful of the public's low approval of Congress. Members of Congress have consistently cited this legislation as one that could restore some of the badly needed confidence and trust of the American people.
This bill could be headed towards the president's desk for final signature as soon as Thursday.