House Puts Off Vote to Limit Lawmakers’ Stock Trades, Casting Doubt on Prospects
But instead of embracing Ms. Spanberger’s measure, Ms. Pelosi dispatched a close ally, Representative Zoe Lofgren, Democrat of California and the chairwoman of the Administration Committee, to draw up a different bill. The speaker’s one requirement, she said, was that it cover the judicial branch as well as Congress.
That bill, released late Tuesday, would eliminate most financial asset trading for lawmakers, their spouses, dependent children, senior staff aides and federal judges, including Supreme Court justices. It would allow them to hold investments through financial holding structures known as blind trusts — in which the owner does not know how the assets are managed — and certain other types of investments, such as broad-based mutual funds, state or municipal bonds and some family businesses.
Lawmakers would have six months to get rid of their individual stock holdings. The bill would also increase the fees that members must pay if they fail to comply and empower the Justice Department to bring civil actions against violators.
Some ethics experts praised the measure as an essential step toward replenishing trust in Congress.
“Although this bill has room for improvement concerning the scope of covered officials and potential loopholes, it answers voters’ calls for reform,” Trevor Potter, the president of the Campaign Legal Center, said in a statement on Thursday.
But others derided the bill as ineffective, citing a provision that would allow Congress and other government bodies to vote to allow their members to hold any other type of investment trust they deemed permissible. Skeptics also argued for stronger disclosure requirements
Blowback was also coming from inside the House. Fifteen Republicans sent a letter to Ms. Lofgren on Sept. 16 complaining that they had not been meaningfully included in negotiations on the bill and arguing that it was intended to score “cheap political points rather than passing sound policy.”
At the same time, some Democrats also said that they had been left out of Ms. Lofgren’s legislative process entirely. Many lawmakers barely had a chance to review the bill before Mr. Hoyer announced it was being shelved.