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Reps to McCarthy: ‘You have not acted on your promise’ on stock trading

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy at the Capitol on July 14, 2023.
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

  • House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said last year that he wanted to tackle the issue of stock trading in Congress.
  • But a year later, there’s little sign he plans to act on that anytime soon.
  • In a letter exclusively shared with Insider, several lawmakers are pressing for answers from him.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy once sounded a lot like he was going to take action on banning members of Congress from trading stocks.

It’s an immensely popular issue — according to the most recent survey, 86% of the American public supports it.

McCarthy, sensing the resonance of the issue and seeking to highlight the prolific stock trading habits of then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband, told reporters one year ago that he would take action on the issue if Republicans took the majority, and that he wanted to “bring trust back to this institution.”

“What I’ve told everybody, we will come back and we will not only investigate this, we will come back with a proposal to change the current behavior,” said McCarthy at the time.

But since becoming House Speaker, he’s declined to raise the issue, other than comments he made on Donald Trump Jr.’s podcast in January.

“I think there is a problem, you got to build trust in this institution,” said McCarthy. “I’m really looking at this — I want to do it on a bipartisan basis.”

So House Democrats — who were burned by Pelosi when she was speaker — are taking McCarthy to task again, with Rep. Angie Craig of Minnesota leading a letter to the Speaker calling for a floor vote on legislation that would ban lawmakers and their immediate family members from owning or trading individual stocks.

“As of the writing of this letter, you have put 215 bills and resolutions on the floor, but you have not acted on your promise,” reads the letter, which was shared exclusively with Insider and requests a response from McCarthy by September 11.

The letter was also signed by Democratic Reps. Andy Kim of New Jersey, Joe Neguse of Colorado, Katie Porter of California, Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois, and Abigail Spanberger of Virginia. 

In a statement to Insider, Craig said McCarthy needed to “put a stop to the culture war nonsense his party is pushing and deliver on the promise he made last year – common sense, bipartisan reforms that a majority of Americans support.”

A spokesperson for McCarthy did not respond to Insider’s request for comment.

While Democrats have pushed for hearings and sent letters urging McCarthy to take action, there’s little indication that the Republican speaker of the House will listen, at least for now.

Unlike Pelosi, McCarthy enjoys less consolidated control of House proceedings, with members of the hard-right House Freedom Caucus frequently derailing plans laid out by leadership. And though some Freedom Caucus members are supportive of banning stock trading in Congress, they’re likely to object to a hastily-scheduled vote on the matter.

At a press conference on the issue in May, Republican Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado, a member of the hard-right caucus, indicated that he wanted a bill to first pass through the House Administration Committee, then garner the support of a majority of Republicans before the bill could be brought to the floor.

“Once we have a piece of legislation, then it’s up to Republicans to work within our conference to make sure that we’ve got 51% that want this bill on the floor,” said Buck. “Then it would be appropriate to go to Speaker McCarthy and say we’ve passed both tests.”

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