Cantor Suggests Senate’s Insider-Trading Bill Not Strong Enough

BY Linda J. Scott  January 31, 2012 at 6:15 PM EDT

U.S. Capitol; Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images

U.S. Capitol; file photo by Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said Tuesday he would prefer his own version of insider-trading legislation over the measure the Senate has decided to debate this week.

Outside the Capitol, on a rare warm January day in Washington, Cantor told reporters he might introduce his own bill in the next month.

“I’m glad to see the Senate consider this legislation, but there are areas where it can be strengthened,” he said.

The Senate measure up for debate would ban insider stock trading by members of Congress and their aides. The bipartisan legislation known as the STOCK Act has the support of President Obama, who said in his State of the Union that he would “sign it tomorrow” should it ever pass Congress.

Cantor says the bill in its current form may not go far enough. But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has opened the measure to what is now an unlimited amendment process.

“The bill does not, at this moment, cover those connected with the federal government in the executive branch, specifically the White House,” Cantor said. “[W]e need to make it clear that this is not acceptable at any … level of government.” Cantor said investors should be required to speedily report their stock transactions.

“The public needs to be aware of what’s going on,” he said.

The Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act would require lawmakers and aides to report the purchase or sale of stocks, bonds, commodities and other investments within 30 days of transactions.

Lawmakers and staff often have access to status reports in closed-door meetings on bills and government contracts that could affect the value of stocks and other investments.

Critics of the proposed legislation, including Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., said that the insider-trading ban merely duplicates current restrictions and Senate rules that prohibit the use of public office for private gain. The only other vote against bringing the bill up for debate was Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C.

The insider-trading ban bill gained traction and national attention when CBS’ “60 Minutes” aired a report in November criticizing the practice.