Lawmakers Call for Stock Trading Ban for Members of Congress

A bipartisan group of lawmakers has proposed a bill that would ban congressional members from holding and trading stocks.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Matt Gaetz
(Image credit: Drew Angerer and Tom Williams)

A group of U.S. lawmakers — including the unlikely pairing of GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) and Democrat Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, (D-NY), normally at opposite ends of the political spectrum — is pushing for a stock trading ban to be passed in a bill dubbed the Bipartisan Restoring Faith in Government Act, or the less catchy H.R. 3003 bill.

By passing the bill that would prevent members of Congress, their spouses and dependents from owning or trading stocks while in office, the group hopes to restore public faith in U.S. lawmakers. Or as Gaetz puts it, “We cannot allow the Swamp to prioritize investing in stocks over investing in our country.”

Members of Congress who already hold stocks would be required to “divest any stocks they currently own within 90 days or put them in a ‘qualified blind trust,’” which must be approved by House ethics officials,” MarketWatch explains. Currently, the 2012 STOCK Act allows members of Congress to trade stocks as long as they ensure transactions are disclosed and don’t trade using insider knowledge.

Subscribe to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance

Be a smarter, better informed investor.

Save up to 74%

Sign up for Kiplinger’s Free E-Newsletters

Profit and prosper with the best of expert advice on investing, taxes, retirement, personal finance and more - straight to your e-mail.

Profit and prosper with the best of expert advice - straight to your e-mail.

Sign up

This isn’t the first time a bill of this nature has been proposed, and Gaetz and Ocasio-Cortez have even teamed up on this subject before, in 2021, on a bill that — like so many others — failed to get to a floor vote. However, this issue has faced increasing scrutiny as concerns over a number of events with potential conflicts of interest and insider trading issues have sparked calls for reform. Notable incidents include several lawmakers who were found to have traded shares following confidential briefings at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic; Paul Pelosi, the husband of Rep. Nancy Pelosi (then Speaker of the House), who sold $4 million worth of Nvidia (NVDA) shares in 2022 just ahead of a House vote on chip manufacturing; and members of Congress who sold bank stocks during the Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) collapse.

“When Members have access to classified information, we should not be trading in the stock market on it,” said Ocasio-Cortez. “It’s really that simple.”

The bill would still allow members of Congress and their families to invest in widely held investment funds and Treasury bonds and in the retirement plan for federal employees (FERS).

Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) said in a statement: “The fact that Members of the Progressive Caucus, the Freedom Caucus, and the Bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, reflecting the entirety of the political spectrum, can find common ground on key issues like this should send a powerful message to America.”

Vaishali Varu

Vaishali graduated in journalism from Leeds University, UK. She has worked for her local news outlet, the Leicester Mercury as well as writing personal finance stories for digital publications, The Money Edit, MoneyWeek and GoodToKnow. When she is not writing about money-saving, deals, finance hacks and other personal finance topics, Vaishali likes to travel and she's a foodie.