Today, U.S. Senator Scott Brown (R-MA) sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid asking that he schedule the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act for a vote in the Senate as soon as possible. Senator Brown's legislation would prohibit members or employees of Congress from engaging in "insider trading," or using nonpublic information obtained through their employment for their own personal benefit.
The request comes a day after President Obama, in his State of the Union address, said, "Send me a bill that bans insider trading by Members of Congress, and I will sign it tomorrow."
After the address, President Obama and Senator Brown spoke briefly about the STOCK Act, with the president saying he would tell Majority Leader Reid to "get it done." The exchange was captured on live TV.
As the letter explains, Senator Brown introduced the STOCK Act on November 15, 2011, and then at his request, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee held a hearing on the bill on December 1. A revised version of the STOCK Act was passed out of committee on December 14 and has been awaiting consideration in the full Senate.
The letter is as follows:
January 25, 2012
The Honorable Harry Reid
United States Senate
Dear Majority Leader Reid:
We need to restore faith in our government, and we need to start right away. In that spirit, I urge you to schedule a vote on the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act as one of our first Senate actions of the second session of the 112th Congress. In the State of the Union speech last night, President Obama said that he would sign this important piece of legislation into law if we can just manage to get it to his desk. Let's show the public that we can come together in common purpose and do the right thing.
As you recall, CBS News' "60 Minutes" aired a story two months ago about instances where members and employees of Congress may be using material nonpublic information for their own personal financial gain. I believe very strongly that Members of Congress must live by the same laws that govern everyone else. We need to make it crystal clear that insider trading, or any other scheme where Members use non-public information to enrich their own bank accounts, is a serious crime.
To address this problem, I filed the STOCK Act (S. 1871) on November 15, 2011. On December 1, at my request, the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee held a hearing on the state of insider trading law as it applies to Congress. Then, on December 14, the revised Chairman's Mark of the STOCK Act passed out of Committee by an overwhelming margin. Majority Leader Reid, I ask that you work with me to pass this very important piece of legislation and do it as soon as possible. It is clear that Congress needs to act, and the opportunity is now in your hands.
At a time when our economy is struggling and the average American family has to make hard economic choices, Members of Congress should not be lining their pockets on insider information. Serving our country is a privilege. I believe we must level the playing field and show the American people that the United States Congress does not consider itself to be above laws that apply to everyone else.
Scott P. Brown
United States Senator
cc: Minority Leader Mitch McConnell