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Senator Proposes PELOSI Act to Ban Lawmakers and Spouses from Stock Profits from Insider Knowledge

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO). (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

U.S. Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) wants to prohibit members of Congress and their spouses from using possible insider knowledge to make a profit from holding or trading individual stocks. 

On Tuesday, Hawley introduced a measure titled Preventing Elected Leaders from Owning Securities and Investments (PELOSI) Act. Its title takes an obvious jab at former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). 

"For too long, politicians in Washington have taken advantage of the economic system they write the rules for, turning profits for themselves at the expense of the American people. As members of Congress, both Senators and Representatives are tasked with providing oversight of the same companies they invest in, yet they continually buy and sell stocks, outperforming the market time and again," Hawley said in a statement. 

"While Wall Street and Big Tech work hand-in-hand with elected officials to enrich each other, hardworking Americans pay the price. The solution is clear: we must immediately and permanently ban all members of Congress from trading stocks," he continued. 

The first-term Missouri Republican also tweeted about his bill, writing: "Members of Congress and their spouses shouldn't be using their position to get rich on the stock market - today I'm introducing legislation to BAN stock trading & ownership by members of Congress. I call it the PELOSI Act."

In addition to barring members of Congress and their spouses from holding, acquiring, or selling stocks or equivalent economic interests during their time in office, they would have six months after taking office to divest any prohibited holdings or place those holdings in a blind trust for the remainder of their tenure in office.

Congressional leaders or their spouses would forfeit any investment profits to the American people via the U.S. Treasury if they are found to be in violation of the Act. The ethics committees of Congress may levy additional fines and will publicize violations.

Fox News reports the bill also specifically amends the Ethics in Government Act of 1978, which prohibits using nonpublic information for private profit, commonly known as insider trading — which is already illegal for business leaders and everyday Americans.

Hawley's measure comes after revelations last year that Nancy Pelosi's husband, Paul Pelosi, traded between $1 million and $5 million of stocks for semiconductors just days before Congress allocated $52 million to the industry, according to Fox News. The stocks were later sold at a loss to remove the appearance of impropriety.

But the Pelosis have still reportedly made millions from their ownership in shares of tech behemoths such as Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft, according to publicly available disclosure forms, The New York Post reported. Last year, however, Pelosi was one of the few notable lawmakers who lost money on stocks as shares of tech companies gave up much of their pandemic-era gains. 

Throughout most of her 20-year tenure in Congress, Pelosi was a vocal critic of a stock trade ban. But now that she's nearing retirement she has relented, expressing her support for new legislation that would overhaul the current system. 

Last year, the Democrat-led Congress appeared poised to vote on the matter, but the issue was shelved just before the midterm elections, according to The Post

As CBN News has reported, this isn't the first attempt at banning members from trading individual stocks. Two years ago, House legislation would have required lawmakers, as well as their spouses and children, to put investment assets into a qualified blind trust. Another bill prevented trades for lawmakers and senior staffers, but not family members. 

The 2012 Stock Act requires members to quickly disclose any stock trade made by themselves, a spouse, or a dependent child. 

A report released in 2022 found the personal finances of U.S. lawmakers often clash with their public duties and potentially break the law. 

Earlier this year, Hawley introduced a bill that would ban lawmakers from making stock trades while in office. Sens. Jon Ossoff (D-GA) and Mark Kelly (D-AZ) introduced similar legislation, according to Fox News

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