Billings Gazette: Montana delegation backs stock trading bans

by Tom Lutey

U.S. Sens. Steve Daines and Elizabeth Warren have partnered on a bill to ban members of Congress and spouses from owning and trading individual stocks.

The bill, read into the record Wednesday, is one of the year’s first bipartisan proposals to end stock trading by lawmakers. The concerns are insider trading and votes cast for the benefit of personal stocks, rather than constituents. The ban applies to commodities futures, bonds, derivatives, or other instruments that investors can manage hands on.

Lawmakers would be given several months to divest current investments. The bill would also put an end to holding such stocks in a “blind trust,” or firewall account that prevents a lawmaker from managing investments.

The bill does allow lawmakers to own shares in widely held investment funds, like mutual funds, that don’t offer investors the ability to buy and sell individual stocks.

Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat, introduced the bill on behalf of Daines, Tennessee Republican Marsha Blackburn and Michigan Democrat Debbie Stabenow.

U.S. Rep. Matt Rosendale, a Montana Republican, has signed on to a similar bipartisan bill in the House.

There are several bills in the works to reform stock trading by members of Congress, in part because there is bipartisan support to do so.

Earlier this week, Democratic U.S. Sen. Jon Tester announced he was co-sponsoring the “Ban Conflicted Trading Act,” a bill sponsored by Sen. Jeff Merkley, an Oregon Democrat. That bill would allow lawmakers to place existing securities holdings in a blind trust, provided the Senate Select Committee on Ethics approved the arrangement.