New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez pushed back on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s opposition to a congressional stock trading ban, Insider reports.
Pelosi said last week that members of Congress should be allowed to trade individual stock.
“This is a free market, we are a free market economy, they should be able to participate in that," Pelosi said.
The question came after a five-month Insider investigation found that 49 members of Congress and 182 senior congressional staffers have violated the Stock Act.
“We have a responsibility to report the stock,” Pelosi said. “I'm not familiar with that five-month review. But if people aren't reporting, they should be.”
Pelosi and her husband Paul have traded over $50 million in assets since last year, according to Jacobin, and her wealth grew by an estimated $16.7 million in 2020.
AOC pushes back:
Pelosi’s comments came after Ocasio-Cortez said it was “ludicrous” that lawmakers can own individual stocks.
“Because we have access to sensitive information and upcoming policy, I do not believe members of Congress should hold/trade individual stock and I choose not to hold any so I can remain impartial about policy marking,” she said. "I also extend that to digital assets/currencies (especially because I sit on the Financial Services Committee). So the answer is no because I want to do my job as ethically and impartially as I can.”
AOC later reiterated her concerns after Pelosi’s comment.
“There is no reason members of Congress should hold and trade individual stock when we write major policy and have access to sensitive information,” she tweeted. “There are many ways members can invest w/o creating actual or appeared conflict of interest,like thrift savings plans or index funds.”
Other Democrats disagree with Pelosi:
Several other Democrats criticized Pelosi’s stance on the issue.
“I disagree strongly here,” said New Jersey Rep. Andy Kim. “Members of Congress should not be allowed to trade individual stocks. Neither should the President or other senior officials. Americans are losing trust in government and we need to show we serve the people, not our personal/political self-interest.”
“No,” Virginia Rep. Abigail Spanberger said in response to Pelosi. “It cannot be a perk of the job for Members to trade on access to information.”
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who has introduced a ban on stock trading by Congress, said "the American people should never have to guess whether or not an elected official is advancing an issue or voting on a bill based on what's good for the country or what's good for their own personal financial interests."