Bill to ban Congressional insider trading targets president, White House staff

President Barack Obama would be held to the same standards as Congress under legislation being considered by the Senate to prohibit lawmakers from trading stocks based on insider information, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R –KY) announced Tuesday morning.

McConnell made the announcement on the Senate floor just hours before the chamber was set to begin debating the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act. Obama called on Congress to pass the legislation in his State of the Union speech last week.

“I expect senators on both sides of the aisle will have a number of amendments to this legislation. But one thing that stands out is the fact that the president is calling on Congress to live up to a standard that he isn’t requiring of his own employees,” McConnell said.

“So I think we can expect at least one amendment that calls on executive branch employees to live up to the same standards that they would set for others. If the goal here is for everybody to play by the same rules, that shouldn’t mean everybody — except those in the executive branch. After all, if anybody has access to privileged information at the moment it’s them,” McConnell said.

McConnell did not indicate when Republicans expect to introduce their amendment, but debate on the STOCK Act is scheduled to continue through the week with a vote on passage by Friday.

The Senate passed the procedural vote Monday night 93-2 to allow debate to move forward on the bill.

Although Democrats have not signaled whether they will accept the Republican’s amendment to hold the president accountable in the bill, Reid said on Monday his party is willing to ban insider trading for members of Congress.

“Insider trading laws were created to level the playing field, and members of Congress are not above the law,” Reid said. “We must play by the same rules every other American plays by.”

Ethical rules already prohibit members of Congress from using their insider knowledge to profit from the stock market, but the legislation would make such action illegal.