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Mr. TESTER. Mr. President, today the Senate will be given the opportunity to ban insider trading by Members of Congress and their staff. Insider trading is illegal for everyone in America, and there is no doubt about that. But when it comes to the information that folks in Congress learn before the general public learns it, there are no clear-cut rules, and that is unacceptable. Folks in Congress clearly have advanced knowledge of which bills and issues Congress will consider. They know how those bills will affect basic goods and services, and often the legislation we pass impacts how well a company does on the stock market.
Good men and women work for Congress, and I have the deepest respect for my colleagues. I would say all come to the Senate with good intentions and carry out their daily responsibilities without thinking about using information they learn for personal financial gain. That is why banning insider trading should be an easy lift. The fact that Members of Congress and their staffs are allowed to buy and sell stocks based on privileged information is incredible to me.
Congress has historically low approval ratings from the American people. They believe many in Congress do not represent them and have forgotten what it means to be a normal American. Most folks would assume Congressmen and
Senators already cannot trade stocks based on information they get in their jobs, but it turns out this may not be true. That is just one more example of why the American people have lost faith in this institution.
As elected officials, it is our duty to regain the trust of the American people. We have an obligation to be as transparent and as accountable as possible. That is why I was the first Member of Congress to post my public schedule online for everybody to see. My constituents can look at my schedule every day to see with whom I meet and which hearings I attend.
Now we have the opportunity to help regain trust in this body by bringing our own rules in line with the rest of America. By adding transparency and accountability, the American people will know we are working on their behalf without considering personal financial gains.
This bill contains a provision Senator Begich and I sponsored to ensure that the annual financial disclosure forms filed by Members of Congress are available electronically. As with most transparency, full transparency means the public has the right and the ability to see our records. In the 21st century, there is no reason we can't do it right away. Letting those disclosures sit in a filing cabinet somewhere in the Capitol Complex is not transparency; putting the files online in a searchable format is.
At a time of hyperpartisanship, this is an opportunity for both sides to work together on a bill we sorely need. There is not a Democratic or Republican angle to this. Every elected official should want to make sure the rules we are held to are consistent and transparent and in line with the rest of the Nation. In fact, this is as nonpartisan a bill as can be, with ideas from Senator Gillibrand and Senator Scott Brown but carried by Senator Lieberman. This bill covers each section of the political spectrum. It is a straightforward bill that is long overdue. The STOCK Act will be a step toward ensuring that when people run for Congress or come to work for Congress, they are doing so because they want to work on behalf of the American people and not for their own personal benefit.
I call on my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to vote yes on this act so we can restore faith in Congress.
I yield the floor.
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