The bill that was to ban members of Congress from using nonpublic information to profit their private investments has ground to a halt due to inaction by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), reports The Hill newspaper:
One thing is clear: The ball is in Reid’s court, and has been for a while.
On March 1, Craig Holman, government-affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen, said, “Everyone is waiting for Reid to make a decision.”
The decision to be made involves whether to resolve the differences between the House and Senate versions of the STOCK (Stop Trading On Congressional Knowledge) Act in a conference committee, or whether to simply pass the House’s less controversial version as is.
The Senate version of the bill contains a provision by Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) that would require so-called “political intelligence firms”–companies that collect tidbits of lucrative, nonpublic information in and around Capitol Hill and sell them to investment firms–to register as lobbyists. The House version lacks a similar provision.
As The Hill notes:
On Monday, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) called for a conference committee to iron out the differences with the House bill.
“Taking up the House-passed bill without the opportunity for the Senate to reassert its position with respect to these [political intelligence] provisions would be wrong. These are two of the most important and substantive provisions in the bill,” the lawmakers wrote in their letter to Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
Also in favor of a conference committee are Reps. Tim Walz (D-MN) and Louise Slaughter (D-NY) who have championed the STOCK Act for years:
“Moving forward with the House version, without giving members a chance to express their views through a conference committee, would do a disservice to the American people. I continue my call for the leaders of the House and Senate to convene a conference committee,” Slaughter said in a statement.
Sen. Reid remains silent as to the reasons for his delay on the STOCK Act.