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The bi-partisan STOCK Act now goes to a conference committee.

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House overwhelmingly approves ban on insider trading

The bi-partisan STOCK Act now goes to a conference committee.

Legislation making it illegal for members of Congress to profit from insider information on stock trades cleared the House almost unanimously Thursday.

The Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act passed overwhelmingly 417-2 with Republican Reps. Brad Woodall of Georgia and John Campbell of California voting “no.”

The legislation was passed by the Senate last week and now goes to a conference committee between the two chambers to work out some significant differences.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said at a press conference following the vote that the broad bipartisan support sends a signal to President Barack Obama to sign the bill after final congressional passage.

“We’ve seen what the two sides can do if they are willing to work together,” Cantor said. “We’ve got some work to do to restore the bond of trust with the public.”

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, cited the oath members of Congress are sworn to uphold and said the STOCK Act goes to the heart of what it means to faithfully discharge the duties of their office.

“Government exists to promote the public good, not to enrich public employees,” Smith said during the floor debate. “Decisions made by big government can have big money consequences.”

The legislation allows the Securities and Exchange Commission to enforce existing laws against members of Congress who seek to cash in on information they obtain in the course of doing the government’s work. It also sets stricter disclosure obligations for lawmakers to reveal their personal financial transactions within weeks, rather than a year.

However, Democrats objected to the removal of a Senate provision that would have required that everyone who participated in “political intelligence activities” register as a lobbyist.

Critics of that language said there were too many questions as to whom that would include and instead requested that a study be done on the matter.

“That’s really just a dodge,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said about the proposed study. “That’s just a way of saying we aren’t really going to do the political intelligence piece.”

Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) said Republicans “couldn’t stomach the pressure” and removed the provision because of objections from K Street lobbyists and Wall Street bankers.

“The political intelligence community will stay in the shadows, just the way Wall Street likes it,” Slaughter said.

Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Calif.) argued that including the language would have rendered the bill unconstitutional — citing the right to petition government that is guaranteed in the First Amendment.

“It would not have been an enforceable law,” Lungren said.

Even though Democrats described the measure as a flawed bill, they supported it as a critical step to regain the public’s trust.

“This Congress is so much better than the ratings the public gives us,” said Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.).

Added Rep. Tim Walz (D-Minn.): “We can’t wait for something perfect to move forward. Let’s get past this, have the president sign this, and get on to real business.”

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Written By

Audrey Hudson is an award-winning investigative journalist whose enterprise reporting has sparked numerous congressional investigations that led to laws signed by Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. She won the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi award for Public Service in 2009 for her report on dangerous drug experiments by the federal government on war veterans, which prompted internal investigations and needed reforms within the Veterans Affairs Department. The report also captured first place for investigative reporting by the Washington, D.C. chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and was a finalist of the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences Webby Awards for news and politics. Her breaking stories have been picked up and followed by major news publications and periodicals, including Readers Digest, Washington Monthly, and The Weekly Standard, as well as The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Washington Post. With nearly 20 years of experience in Washington as a newspaper reporter and as a Capitol Hill staffer for Western lawmakers, she will now lead Human Events‚?? coverage of energy and environmental issues. A native of Kentucky, Mrs. Hudson has worked inside the Beltway for nearly two decades -- on Capitol Hill as a Senate and House spokeswoman, and most recently at The Washington Times covering Congress, Homeland Security, and the Supreme Court. Audrey‚??s email is AHudson@EaglePub.Co

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