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Public Statements

Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act of 2012

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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AMENDMENT NO. 1491

Mr. SHELBY. Madam President, I rise again today to speak on behalf of fairness. We have heard quite a bit from the President on the campaign trail about fairness. But it appears there is no interest in fairness when it comes to transparency for the executive branch.

The bill we are currently debating in the Senate will subject Congress to additional reporting requirements for certain financial transactions. The goal is to ensure that Members of Congress and congressional staff are not using their unique access to confidential information for personal gain. That goal is worthy.

I believe this is an appropriate goal, and one I fully support. I do not understand, however, why the additional reporting requirements do not extend to members of the executive branch who arguably have even greater access to such confidential information than Members of Congress and their staffs do.

It only seems fair that executive branch officials, who are already required to file annual financial reports, as we are, also be directed to meet the same additional reporting requirements being imposed on the legislative branch.

I have yet to hear a compelling argument against equity between the branches. Some people have argued that the executive branch has other ways to deal with insider trading. Think about it. But none of those will subject executive branch employees to the same public scrutiny as this legislation would. I believe what is good for the goose, it seems to me, should be good for the gander. We have heard that all of our life.

I understand there is a willingness on the other side to expand the reporting requirements, but it would fall far short of parity.

Some have said here it would cost too much. But if we are willing to expand the population of executive branch officials required to report publicly, then any further expansion will only present marginal additional costs.

Currently, less than 1 percent of the executive branch workforce is required to file financial disclosure statements. The other 99 percent are not. My parity amendment will not expand that universe. It will only require them to meet the same reporting standards that will apply to the Congress itself.

As I understand it, the Democratic alternative to my amendment would produce some bizarre results. For example, a Senate office administrator who meets the reporting threshold would be required to report publicly as directed in this bill, but the head of enforcement at the Securities and Exchange Commission would not. That is bizarre. A Senate scheduler may have to make additional public disclosures, but the General Counsel of the Federal Reserve would not. This is not fair, and I believe it is unacceptable.

My amendment simply says if you are an executive branch or independent agency official and you currently file financial disclosure reports, you will have to comply with the same public reporting requirements contained in this bill that we plan to impose on the Congress.

My amendment also contains the same military personnel exemption that the Democratic alternative does, as well as the same 2-year implementation provision.

My amendment is simple, fair, and deserves the support of every Member of this body. If my friends on the other side of the aisle believe in fairness, this would be a very good way to show it.

I yield the floor.

I suggest the absence of a quorum.

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Mr. SHELBY. Madam President, the Lieberman amendment is a side-by-side with the Shelby amendment. This Lieberman amendment would create loopholes, disparity, and it undermines the true transparency. I encourage my colleagues to oppose it.

On the other hand, my amendment would be a side-by-side, and it creates parity, fairness, and true transparency. Without transparency the American people will be left in the dark. Also, the Senator from Connecticut is talking about who would have to file these. It will be the same people who have to file disclosures now. Why should they be exempt? My amendment would make it a level playing field. It makes a lot of sense. It is fair, it is honest, and the executive branch should not be excluded for any reason I can think of.

I thank the Chair.

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