Members of the United States House of Representatives and Senate, as well as Supreme Court justices who currently trade cryptocurrencies, may have to stop HODLing while in office, should a bill get enough votes.
According to a framework released Thursday, Committee on House Administration chairman Zoe Lofgren — responsible for the House’s day-to-day operations — said she had a “meaningful and effective plan to combat financial conflicts of interest” in the US. Congress by restricting the financial activities of legislators and SCOTUS judges, as well as that of their spouses and children. The bill, if passed under the framework, would suggest a change in policy following the passage of the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act, or STOCK Act, in 2012, allowing members of Congress to buy, sell and trade stocks and other investments. while in office, but also to require them to disclose such transactions.
“Congress may act to restore public confidence in their officials and to ensure that those officials act in the public interest, not in their private financial interest, through senior government officials — including members of Congress and the Supreme Court — and restrict their spouses and dependent children from trading stocks or holding investments in securities, commodities, futures, cryptocurrency and other similar investments and from shorting stocks,” Lofgren said.
“I will shortly be submitting a legislative text for a bill based on this reform framework. Many members have already concluded that reforms are necessary.”
The framework suggested that lawmakers and SCOTUS judges could still hold and disclose a portfolio of diversified mutual funds, exchange-traded funds, treasury bills and other investments that “didn’t offer the same potential for conflicts of interest.” disclosure amounts are more accurate than the “extremely broad” range currently in use — for example, from $5 million to $25 million — and are available to the public.
Under the STOCK Act, lawmakers are required to report the purchase, sale, or exchange of any investment over $1,000 within 30 to 45 days, but the law provides minimal financial and legal consequences for failing to file on time — sometimes just a $200 late fee. The proposed framework suggested fines of $1,000 for each 30-day period a person violated disclosure rules, increase the late fee to $500, and authorize the Department of Justice to initiate civil proceedings if necessary. The House Press Gallery Twitter account reported Thursday that the House of Representatives could consider the bill as early as next week.
Senators Jon Ossoff and Mark Kelly proposed similar reforms to the STOCK Act in the Senate in January, but there has been no movement on the bill for more than 8 months. According to Lofgren, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi instructed the committee to assess potential financial conflicts of interest in Congress. However, the speaker has previously opposed efforts to ban lawmakers from owning or trading stocks, saying “they should be able to participate in that.”
Related: Powers On…Why Do US Officials Ignore Ethics And STOCK Act By Trading Stocks?
A number of House members and senators have disclosed their exposure to crypto investments, including Illinois Representative Marie Newman Florida Representative Michael Waltz Wyoming Representative Cynthia Lummis Texas Representative Michael McCaul Pennsylvania Representative Pat Toomey, Alabama Representative Barry Moore and New Jersey Representative. Jefferson van Drew. In December 2021, New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said it was inappropriate for her to hold Bitcoin (BTC) or other digital assets because US lawmakers have access to “sensitive information and upcoming policies.”