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Senate May Take Up STOCK Act

Senate Democratic leaders are considering an effort to bring to the floor a bill that would explicitly ban federal lawmakers and their staff from trading on insider information.

A senior Democratic aide said there is a good chance the measure will come to the floor next week, but no final decisions have been made.

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, is the bill’s sponsor. He too believes it will be on the floor next week.

“I think it is, yes,” Lieberman said. “I hope so. It came out of the committee on a bipartisan basis. I’m sure there will be amendments.”

The bill was approved by the panel last month and would prohibit Members of Congress and aides from using non-public information for personal gain or to tip off others. Congressional insider trading is not explicitly prohibited by statute but is outlawed under Securities and Exchange Commission rules.

The measure would also require lawmakers and staffers to report the purchase or sale of stocks, bonds, commodities and other investments within 30 days of the transactions.

If the Senate does move on the measure, it would be the first element called for in President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech to hit the Senate floor.

In the address Tuesday, Obama said, “Send me a bill that bans insider trading by Members of Congress, and I will sign it tomorrow. Let’s limit any elected official from owning stocks in industries they impact”

Opponents of the measure believe it is redundant. At the markup last month, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), one of only two Senators to vote against the bill in committee, said the measure is not needed and could also have unintended consequences.

The bill was relatively unknown until the CBS news program “60 Minutes” reported on it in November.

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