Senators backing 'insider trading' bill


The Senate is moving forward -- and with seemingly overwhelming support -- on a politically popular election year bill to tighten financial disclosure rules for members of Congress.

The STOCK Act (an acronym for Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge) passed a procedural hurdle on Monday by a 93-2 vote. President Obama came out in favor of it as well in his State of the Union speech last week.

The Nevada senators voted in the majority and continued Tuesday to associate themselves with the bill.

In a speech (video below), Republican Sen. Dean Heller said Congress needs to pass the legislation in order to reclaim some measure of trust from a public that rates lawmakers poorly.

Meanwhile, Democratic Sen. Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, told reporters the bill would remove any doubt that lawmakers are covered by insider trading laws.

"We're going to make sure that there's no hesitation to allowing the Justice Department to go forward, because we want to make sure that any questions about whether or not a member of Congress can do inside trading, that's going to end, because they can't," Reid said. "We're not going to allow that to happen."

Reid on Monday said he would allow an open amendment process on the bill, so it is uncertain when the Senate might complete action.

And while the vote to proceed passed by a big margin, the bill could be bogged down by delaying tactics by senators who may not believe it is necessary even though they would be loathe to vote directly against it.

The legislation was given life by a "60 Minutes" report (video below) last November on questionable stock trades and land deals by lawmakers.

The proposed law would require lawmakers to disclose the buying and selling of stocks and investments within 30 days. It also seeks to clarify that laws against insider trading -- transactions based on non-public knowledge -- extend to members of Congress and their staffs.

Sen. Dean Heller speech

"60 Minutes" report on congressional insider trading