Senate Passes Ban on Insider Trading

The ban on insider trading in Congress is moving along legislatively.

The Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act passed has passed in the Senate this evening by a vote of 96-3.

Sens. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., Richard Burr, R-N.C., and Tom Coburn, R-Okla., voted against the bill. Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., is still recovering from his stroke so did not vote.

The legislation turned into a much more expansive bill than when it was proposed, after a slew of amendments were debated all week and voted on today.

Most significantly the bill, which bans members of Congress from benefiting from insider stock trading, now covers the executive branch, as well, including the requirement that financial disclosure statements are now electronically filed to be available online and that the 30-day notice of stock or securities transactions also apply to a limited number of executive branch officials.

"If it affects us, it affect them, they have a tremendous amount of inside information and they should be held to the same standard that we are," said Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass.

But the expansion of the bill also had a few other inclusions, such as the requirement of disclosure of mortgages by members of Congress and limits to the bonuses of executives of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac while they're in a trusteeship.

At a time when public confidence in Congress is at an all time low, senators hope this legislation will restore some badly-needed confidence and trust from the American people.

"We sent a strong message by strengthening our laws that public office is not for private gain," said Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine. "The Senate came together in an overwhelming bipartisan fashion to correct the perception that insider trading is somehow going on in Washington, D.C. Whether or not members are engaging in insider trading, it is important that we respond to the perception that some members may be using their official position for private gain."

The legislation will now be sent over to the House of Representatives.  Senators hope President Obama can have a final bill ready for his signature by the end of the month.