Pelosi reverses course, signals openness to banning congressional stock trades

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday suggested that she will consider proposals banning members of Congress from trading stocks while in elective office, a sharp reversal from just a month ago when she adamantly defended the practice.

“I’ve said to the House Administration Committee, review all the bills that are coming in and see which ones — where the support is in our caucus,” Pelosi said Thursday. “If members want to do that, I’m OK with that.”

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The about-face comes after weeks of pressure from Democrats and Republicans, with lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle introducing legislation that would prohibit, or limit, members of Congress and their spouses in some cases, from trading stocks while in office. The stock-ban bills have come from a number of lawmakers, including Sens. Jon Ossoff, D-Ga., Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., Josh Hawley, R-Miss., and Reps. Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., and Chip Roy, R-Texas.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., meets with reporters at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite / AP Newsroom)

Still, Pelosi did not fully backtrack, defending her previous comments and saying that she has “great confidence in the integrity” of her colleagues. 

“They are remarkable,” she said. “So when people talk about well, somebody might do this, and somebody, I trust them. If in fact we should have severer penalties for delays in reporting on the STOCK Act, then do that.”

Those comments closely track with her previous statement in December, when she told reporters that lawmakers should be allowed to trade stocks if they choose to do so. 

“We are a free market economy. They should be able to participate in that,” Pelosi told reporters on Dec. 15 when asked about the subject. 

Pelosi does not own any stock herself, but her husband holds tens of millions of dollars worth of stocks and options in companies like Apple, Disney, Amazon and Google. Lawmakers’ spouses are allowed to trade in companies or industries that their partner may help regulate.

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But under the STOCK Act, passed in 2012, it’s illegal for members of Congress and their families to profit from inside information and it requires lawmakers to report stock trades to Congress within 45 days. In some recent cases, lawmakers have failed to report their trades altogether.

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“We have a responsibility to report,” Pelosi said last month. “If people aren’t reporting they should be.”

Pelosi is worth an estimated $114 million, according to her 2018 personal financial disclosure, making her the sixth-richest member of the House and the 10th richest member of Congress, according to data tracked by the Center for Responsive Politics.

Other Democrats, such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., have voiced support for banning trading among members of Congress. 

Former President Trump recently slammed Pelosi for her family’s stock trades, saying “it’s not fair to the rest of the country.” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has also floated the possibility of a ban or fresh trading limits if Republicans win the majority in November.

Although Pelosi opened the door to a House vote on a potential ban, she said the Supreme Court should also enact some measures to disclose stock trades.

“I don’t think that the court should be let off the hook,” Pelosi said.

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