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Harry Reid Signals He May Gut Insider Trading Bill

The bill spearheaded by Breitbart editor Peter Schweizer banning members of Congress from using nonpublic information to profit their personal investments may hit a wall in the form of Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV).

On Monday, Mr. Reid indicated that he may simply accept the watered down version of the STOCK (Stop Trading On Congressional Knowledge) Act passed by the House instead of sending the bill to a conference committee to hammer out the significant differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill.

“There is a decent chance that we will just take the House bill. That would be the path of least resistance. Reopening the debate would be complicated and controversial.”

According to Mr. Reid, the “path of least resistance” would allow him to avert procedural hurdles which he sees as cumbersome.

“To get to conference,” Mr. Reid said, “I’ll have to have three cloture votes. And that’s always difficult. I hope we can get consent to move forward on it. At this stage, we don’t have that.”

The House version of the bill that Mr. Reid indicates he may accept would not require $100 million “political intelligence” industry–made up of 2,000 people who scour Capitol Hill seeking insider information and whispers about pending legislation that they then sell to investment firms and interested parties–to register as lobbyists.  Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), the man responsible for adding the political intelligence firm provision, believes that requiring such agents to register as lobbyists is a no-brainer:

If you seek information from Congress in order to make money, the American people have a right to know your name and who you’re selling that information to.

The second major difference between the two bills is that the House bill lacks the kinds of powerful tools prosecutors need to prosecute congressional insider trading cases found in the Senate version.

Mr. Reid faces a critical decision that may have electoral implications.  Look for Senate Republicans to seize upon Mr. Reid’s failure of leadership should he, as he puts it, pursues “the path of least resistance.”

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