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Public Statements

Stock Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. WALZ of Minnesota. I thank the gentlelady.

Mr. Speaker, the gentlelady from New York has a long history of service and was concerned about ethics before ethics were in vogue, and certainly before ``60 Minutes'' came on.

All of us here enjoying in this people's House the incredible honor and responsibility and privilege that we have been given by our neighbors, we gather in here as teachers and soldiers, as microbiologists, as new Members, attorneys who join us here, and were sent here from across this Nation, from the plains of Minnesota to the high rises of New York City to the beautiful areas of Oregon. Our newest Member is joining us tonight. And the responsibility of standing here and self-governing calls the responsibility of us to conduct ourselves in a manner not just equal to every other Member, every other citizen, but to a higher level.

And the absolute perception, whether real or not, the perception that Members of Congress or elected officials are somehow using their office to profit, or somehow tipping people to profit for themselves, is not only an affront to our neighbors who sent us here, it's a cancer on the democracy.

This institution and deliberative self-government will survive long before us. The giants who came before us and the words that we stand in front of, they will last into the future. This institution requires us to conduct ourselves in this manner.

So that's why, coming from the high school classroom as a teacher, one of the first people I met in this Chamber was the gentlewoman from New York, and she knew that I was sent here to try and do things differently; yes, to be passionate about how we see our political differences, to be passionate about how we educate our children, how we care for our veterans, how we build our highways, how we bring about a system of health care that's fair, and to respect our neighbors and to respect our colleagues on the other side of the aisle for their differences, but what's happened and what the American people have lost faith in is not the idea of democracy, but the idea that we all play by the rules.

So I think it's important, when the gentlelady from New York speaks and speaks about this idea of tightening the rules on insider trading, she's talking about protecting the democracy. She's talking about making sure no one gains access, so that when the teacher walks through the door, when the microbiologist walks through the door, when the attorney walks through the door and they're representing 650,000 people in their district, that those constituents know the decisions we make are based on what's best for the Nation, the things we talk about are not being used to enrich someone personally, because it's not only wrong--and now, after tomorrow, we're going to, hopefully, say illegal--it also is so undermining to the system.

So I think this debate, and this decision we have, the gentlewoman's point goes much deeper than what's possible politically; it's what's required of us. And what we're asking for, and what the gentlelady has so eloquently talked about, is just give us the opportunity to talk this through.

The genius of this system put us here. It put the Senators on the other side of this great Capitol, and it told us to get together. They passed a piece of legislation. We compromised over here with something. Let's bring them together.

And the argument being made on political intelligence and supporting the system is absolutely correct. I think today, and I want to be very clear, Mr. Speaker, none of us here are patting ourselves on the back and saying, Look, we passed the STOCK Act. The gentlelady's worked at it for 6 years. It feels like a sense of accomplishment not for her, for me, or our colleagues who have been stalwart supporters. It's an affirmation to the American public that the system works, and they owe us to do the best job we can before we move that forward.

So this isn't, Good job, we passed a bill to do the right thing. Americans live by this rule every day. What we did was we closed a loophole that existed, and we went further and talked about how could this be construed to enrich others and corrupt the democracy.

So you're hearing terms like ``political intelligence.'' What we're saying is, do it in the light of day. Sunshine cures many ills.

And so I support the gentlelady's point. I support it because I know it didn't come about by a born-again ethics. It came about by years and a lifetime of not giving the sermon but living the sermon.

So I ask my colleagues, listen to what's being said here. Take this into consideration. Compromise. Get this to the Senate, and then let's give the American public a real unique gift in this political environment, a win on something important that makes them believe that things can be better. We owe that to them.


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