This vote was on an amendment by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) that would have required members of Congress to certify that they do not use their access to inside information to profit in the stock market.
Sen. Paul’s amendment was aimed at preventing members of Congress from using their access to sensitive information to make trades in the stock market. For example, 60 Minutes aired an influential report in November 2011 that included a story about Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-AL), a member of the House Financial Services Committee. When the financial industry collapsed in 2008, Rep. Bachus took part in sensitive meetings aimed at averting a global meltdown. At the same time, he was making stock market trades that would allow him to profit if the economy tanked.
Sen. Paul’s amendment was aimed at preventing this type of activity by requiring members of Congress to sign a statement certifying that they would not engage in insider trading. However, Sen. Paul’s amendment also would have eliminated all other provisions of the STOCK Act, the bill under consideration. This would have removed the bill’s other efforts to outlaw insider trading and strengthen oversight of the investment activities of members of Congress and their staffs. Opponents of Sen. Paul’s amendment said his simplistic approach would leave loopholes in the law.
“The affirmation by members [of Congress that] they have not violated insider trading laws is, in my opinion, not enough,” Sen. Joseph Lieberman (ID-CT) said.
Sen. Paul argued that his approach would achieve the goal of outlawing insider trading without “creating a bureaucracy and a nightmare that may well have many unintended consequences.”
Sen. Paul’s amendment was defeated by a vote of 37-61. Voting “yea” were 30 Republicans and 7 Democrats. Voting “nay” were 46 Democrats, including a majority of progressives, and 15 Republicans. As a result, the STOCK Act moved forward without losing its main provisions outlawing insider trading and strengthening oversight of the investment activities of Congressional members and employees.