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Public Statements

Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act of 2012

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. WALZ. I thank the gentleman from Michigan.

I'd also like to thank the chairman for his support of this bill and eloquent response on it.

It's been a long 6-year journey to pass this reform. It has taken hard work and a bipartisan effort. The American people expect and deserve that.

When I first came to Congress in 2006 after spending a lifetime of teaching social studies in the public school classroom, I was approached by the gentlewoman from New York (Ms. Slaughter) and Brian Baird, our former Member from Washington State. He said, You were sent here to make a difference and do things differently. If you really believe in reform, take a look at this bill.

I got involved right after that, and Representative Slaughter, I can say, has been a stalwart supporter of this bill. She understood this is far more than just about clarifying insider trading. This is about restoring faith to the institution.

She was concerned about the ethics of this body before ethics seemed to be in vogue. It has been in vogue her whole lifetime. She has lived that sermon of ethics and of living by the rules instead of just giving it, and that I appreciate.

The integrity of this institution stands above all else. As the sacred holders of the privilege, the honor and the responsibility given to us by our neighbors to self-govern ourselves, we must make sure that this institution is never tarnished; and this bill goes a long way to doing that.

The perception is that Members of Congress are enriching themselves. That's not only an affront to our neighbors that we're not playing by the rules; it is a cancer that can destroy the democracy. Each Member of Congress has a responsibility to hold himself not just equal to his neighbors but to a higher standard. The public wants us to come here and debate how we educate our children, how we serve our veterans, how we build our roads, how we protect this Nation, how we spend those taxpayer dollars. That's what makes us strong--all these differing ideas coming together for a compromise and moving forward. If there is a perception that someone is enriching himself, it undermines our ability to do those things.

We're not here today to pat ourselves on the back. This might be the only place where doing the right thing gets you kudos when it's expected of everyone else. So we're here to say that this is a victory, not for us, but it is one tiny step on a journey, which is about restoring the faith of the American people and the institution. They can believe with all their hearts that we are wrong. They cannot believe that we are corrupt. They will have us and we will pass and we will be dust, and this place--this building, this podium right here--will still stand.

That's what we're doing here today. So I implore folks, let's come together in a bipartisan manner.

I agree with the gentlelady: I'm disappointed the political intelligence piece isn't in here; but as I said, I believe this is a first step. We can't wait for the perfect to move something forward, so I think it's a good bipartisan compromise. I implore my colleagues to join us on this first step. Give this win to the American public, and then let's get back in here and start working on jobs. Let's get back in here and start working on the national debt. Let's get back in here and figure out how we're going to protect this Nation and educate our children into the future. This lets us do that and, I think, shows the American public we can come together. Let's get it passed, and let's have the President sign it. Then let's get on to real business.

With that, I would be remiss not to mention a person who was one of the original seven folks on this bill. Walter Jones has been our Republican colleague, and has been a stalwart supporter of this. This is a truly bipartisan piece. Ethics crosses the aisle. Our folks in here are good people who are coming together for the good of their citizens, and for that I am grateful for today.


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