Most Americans agree that members of Congress should not be able to hold and trade individual stocks. But that hasn’t prevented many from doing it.
Before the onset of the pandemic, dozens of House and Senate members made over a thousand financial transactions after receiving closed-door briefings. In 2022, members of Congress made more than 12,700 individual trades, with dozens of members profiting even while Wall Street saw its worst year since 2008. An investigation by The New York Times last year found that a fifth of all lawmakers trading in companies directly related to their work on a congressional committee.
This has to stop. That’s why I just introduced the bipartisan Ending Trading and Holdings in Congressional Stocks (ETHICS) Act to end stock trading by members of Congress. I spoke yesterday at a press conference in front of the Capitol announcing this new legislation.
VIDEO: U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich speaks at press conference announcing the ETHICS Act to end stock trading by members of Congress, April 18, 2022.
The ETHICS Act would bar members of Congress, their spouses, and dependent children from owning or trading individual stocks, securities, commodities, or futures. Lawmakers often have advance notice of investigations, hearings, and legislation that can impact stock prices, or can move markets by supporting or enacting policy changes that affect specific companies or industries.
It also strengthens congressional ethics, bans conflicts of interest and the appearance of conflicts of interest, and includes strong penalties. For any member or their covered family members who continue to hold or trade in violation of the act, the fine would be at least the value of the Members' monthly pay.
My focus is on delivering for my state, our country, and the legacy we will leave our children and grandkids. The same should go for all members of Congress – who were elected to represent their constituents, not their personal investments. We must make sure that when a member of Congress is faced with making important policy decisions, their focus is on what’s good for their community and our country, first and only.