Democrats Break With Leaders Over Congressional Stock Trading

The bills enjoy broad support — the 42 co-sponsors of Ms. Spanberger’s TRUST in Congress Act includes Representatives Matt Gaetz of Florida, Scott Perry of Pennsylvania and Andy Harris of Maryland, all firmly in the Trump wing of their party — and if anything, they are Ms. Pelosi in the spotlight.

“You have the speaker of the House out there trading, and her husband making millions and millions of dollars a year,” Mr. Howley said.

Democrats are just as eager to contrast their position with Ms. Pelosi’s. They said her refusal in December to consider a stock trading ban — “We’re a free-market economy,” she said when asked about the push — made the issue a cause célèbre.

“The speaker, I don’t want to directly call her out, but handfuls of members have put dozens and dozens of years here. They come at this from a different time and a different perspective,” said Ms. Stevens, who has found herself almost certainly facing another Democrat, Andy Levin, in the upcoming House primaries in redistricted Michigan. Both signed on to last week’s letter demanding action on a trading ban.

Democratic leaders remain leery. They argue that once Congress begins trying to regulate its own members out of investments, it is difficult to draw the line between what is legal and what is not. If stock ownership is forbidden because it could create a conflict with legislating, would having student loan debt make it inappropriate for a member to press for loan relief? Would owning real estate confer an improper personal interest in environmental or land-use policy?

Mr. Roy allowed that there were complexities, but, he said, a line had to be drawn.

“If you’re talking about dirt, well, are you talking about your family farm or are you engaging in thousands of real estate transactions?” he asked. “Are you buying and selling and engaging in commercial real estate transactions development while you’re in Congress? There are limits to what we’re supposed to do.”

Drew Hammill, Ms. Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff, said that the speaker had asked Representative Zoe Lofgren, Democrat of California and the chairwoman of the Committee on House Administration, to examine an array of proposals to regulate lawmakers’ trading, including “unacceptable noncompliance” with the existing Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act. He said Ms. Pelosi supports increasing the penalties under that 2012 law, which mandates disclosure of lawmaker trading.

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