April 19, 2023

Duckworth Joins Merkley, Brown and Colleagues in Introducing Bipartisan Legislation to End Corrupt Stock Trading Activities by Members of Congress


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] — U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) joined U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) in introducing the Ending Trading and Holdings in Congressional Stocks (ETHICS) Act. This bill is bipartisan and bicameral, with U.S. Representatives Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL-08) and Michael Cloud (R-TX-27) leading the bill in the House. The ETHICS Act is new, comprehensive legislation that would prohibit members of Congress, their spouses and dependent children from abusing their positions for personal financial gain by owning or trading securities, commodities or futures.

“My colleagues and I in Congress were elected to look out for the best interests of our constituents, not our own financial interests—and the American people deserve to be confident that that is the case,” said Senator Duckworth. “I’m proud to help introduce the ETHICS Act to help restore trust in our government as well as strengthen integrity and transparency in Washington.”

“Congressional stock trading is deeply corrupt. We are elected to serve the public, not our portfolios. And no member should vote on bills biased by the character of their holdings,” said Senator Merkley.

“It’s simple: members of Congress are supposed to serve the American people, not their stock portfolios,” said Senator Brown. “Elected officials have access to private information that can affect individual companies and entire industries. We need more accountability and transparency to prevent members from abusing their positions for personal gain.”

Joining Duckworth in cosponsoring the legislation are U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Angus King (I-ME), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Bob Casey (D-PA), Peter Welch (D-VT), Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), John Fetterman (D-PA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Jon Tester (D-MT), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT). In the House, the ETHICS Act is cosponsored by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY).

The ETHICS Act would bar members of Congress, their spouses and dependent children from owning or trading individual stocks, securities, commodities, or futures. Lawmakers often have advance notice of investigations, hearings and legislation that can impact stock prices, or can move markets by supporting or enacting policy changes that affect specific companies or industries. The legislation gives several options to members of Congress who own covered assets, including divesting, diversifying into allowable assets—such as mutual funds—or placing assets into a Qualified Blind Trust (QBT). The ETHICS Act addresses concerns about Qualified Blind Trusts not being truly blind with new, enhanced provisions requiring divestiture of assets that go into the Qualified Blind Trust. The ETHICS Act strengthens congressional ethics, bans conflicts of interest and the appearance of conflicts of interest and increases transparency in Congress.

The ETHICS Act includes strong penalties with enforcement by respective Congressional Ethics Offices. If Members or their covered family members continue to hold or trade in violation of the Act, the fine will be at least the value of the Members' monthly pay. The ETHICS Act also expands on disclosure requirements under 2012’s Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act.

The ETHICS Act enjoys wide support from government ethics leaders and other groups across the political spectrum, including: Project on Government Oversight (POGO), Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), Public Citizen, Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC), MoveOn, National Taxpayers Union (NTU), Take On Wall Street, Stand Up America, Indivisible, RepresentUs, 20/20 Vision, Campaign Legal Center, Issue One and Our Revolution. 

Full text of the legislation as introduced in the Senate is available here and a summary is available here.