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Wall Street influence corrupts legislation

What a sorry – but telling – display. The Republican leadership’s weakening of legislation banning congressional insider trading reflects its commitment to the hedge funds and Wall Street interests who lobbied against transparency of their trading activities that are based on insider knowledge gleaned in the halls of Congress.

Despite the fact that two-thirds of the U.S. House of Representatives sponsored strong legislation to ban congressional insider trading (H.R. 1148), and the U.S. Senate approved similarly sweeping legislation (S. 2038) by a 96-3 vote, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) has permitted the House today to vote only on his own watered-down substitute measure

Cantor’s substitute deleted two of the most important components of the original STOCK Act – provisions requiring transparency of political intelligence consultants and strengthening the nation’s anti-corruption laws. Cantor’s decision to weaken the legislation, which was roundly condemned by congressional Democrats and Republicans alike, is a gift to the financial interests that oppose transparency of trades that exploit insider knowledge.

Given no other choice, the House approved Cantor’s weak version of the “Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge” (STOCK) Act by a vote of 417-2.

All is not lost. Public Citizen urges congressional leaders to bring the measure into conference negotiations, where proponents of the more comprehensive version of the STOCK Act should secure the more meaningful original legislation. President Barack Obama is waiting to sign a strong STOCK Act into law, and the American public expects no less.