Laws passed by Congress that impact all Americans are supposed to apply to members of Congress, too, but apparently that needs to be put in writing. Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says a preliminary Senate vote Monday cleared the way for a final vote this week on a bill to make it clear: no member of Congress is exempt from regulations on insider trading.
“This bill simply clarifies current law,” Grassley says. “Insider trading laws already apply to Congress, but it isn’t very clear, so this makes it clear. Today, I say it never hurts to codify that members of Congress are not above the law.” Insider trading is when someone with private information about a company uses it to take advantage of the system, buying or selling stocks or securities.
Grassley says he led a legislative effort some 17 years ago to make it known that no one in the chamber should be considered immune from the laws they pass for the rest of the nation. Grassley says, “Congress, between 1938 and 1990, passed a lot of laws exempting congressmen and senators who are employers of people from a lot of laws that apply to other employers.”
Grassley’s bill, the Congressional Accountability Act, was passed in 1995. It dealt with a host of business-related measures, from civil rights to workplace safety. “We effectively had one set of laws for employers on Capitol Hill and another set of laws for all the rest of the businesses in the rest of the country,” Grassley says.
“It wasn’t right to have two sets of laws.” The new measure on insider trading is expected to go to a vote on Thursday. It would specifically bar members of Congress from making trades based on non-public information they obtain through their jobs.