(Colorado Newsline) Two of Colorado's representatives in Congress joined a bipartisan coalition of legislators seeking congressional action to ban members from trading stock.
U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse, a Lafayette Democrat, led the group that also includes Rep. Ken Buck, a Windsor Republican, in a press conference calling on Congress to fulfill the coalition's "simple, straightforward and profoundly important request" of banning stock trading by members of Congress, Neguse said. A bipartisan group of 21 legislators wrote a letter to House Administration Committee leadership Thursday asking them to push forward a bill addressing the matter.
"The necessity for that and the reasons why we believe in that so firmly couldn't be more clear and more obvious: Members of Congress should be putting the needs of their constituents and the American people first, not their stock portfolios," Neguse said at the press conference. "So we will continue to make every effort to convince our colleagues, and in particular the House Administration Committee, and the leadership on that committee to take this legislation up before the August recess."
Buck said at the press conference that many Americans view Congress as self-serving, which compounds the distrust people have in government. He said 99% of the members of Congress understand that their role is public service, not an opportunity to get rich.
"Congress has a fundamental problem in this country, and I recognize it when I go home and I talk to folks in Colorado -- people don't trust us," Buck said. "... I hope all members will embrace this idea that our ethical responsibilities to the American people is far greater than any self-serving interest that we have in this job."
The New York Times reported on various members of Congress, including Sen. John Hickenlooper of Colorado, who have invested in or traded stock for companies influenced by their congressional committees. The Times found 97 lawmakers who have themselves made such an investment or have a close family member who has -- a practice that is currently allowed under U.S. law.
A variety of the members at the press conference have proposed bills that aim to prevent congressional stock ownership or trading in one way or another.
Neguse said he is a co-sponsor of every bill a legislator has proposed to ban congressional stock trading, and he hopes to see the Administration Committee work out which bill it wants to advance in a "robust" markup hearing.
The letter addressed to leadership of the House Administration Committee specifically asks for a legislative markup session, which takes place after hearings are completed, on the various proposed legislation to address Congressional stock trading.
"There have been a variety of recommendations and discussions surrounding this issue, including numerous bipartisan and bicameral pieces of legislation introduced by the undersigned," the letter reads. "In this Congress alone, there have been at least six different legislative proposals introduced in the House of Representatives. We believe that the best platform and venue to consider these numerous proposals would be through a full markup in your committee. It is imperative that we take action -- together -- to achieve consensus on legislation that would ban the trading of stocks by Members of Congress."
The letter was also signed by U.S. Rep. Jason Crow, a Centennial Democrat.
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