Representative Abigail Spanberger (D-VA-07) criticized Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA-12) and House Democratic leadership for moves that killed bipartisan congressional stock trading reform legislation, but her opponent in the election Yesli Vega said in a press release that the congresswoman “isn’t fooling anyone.”
“This moment marks a failure of House leadership. This moment is yet another example of why I believe that the Democratic Party needs new leaders in the halls of Capitol Hill — as I have long made known,” Spanberger said in a Friday press release.
Spanberger is among the voices calling for reform to congressional trading rules after some legislators appeared to make millions on trades just before the stock market crashed during COVID-19. Republicans renewed those calls recently by criticizing Pelosi for holding NVIDIA stock while voting on the CHIPS and Science Act. In June 2020, Spanberger and Representative Chip Roy (R-TX-21) first introduced the TRUST in Congress Act and reintroduced the bill this session. The bill would have required members of Congress, their spouses, and dependent children to place investments in a blind trust.
At the beginning of September, a coalition of mostly Democratic members, including Spanberger, wrote a letter to House leadership urging them to advance legislation by September 30. The letter listed core principles the legislation should adhere to, including clear enforcement mechanisms and sufficient penalties.
They said the legislation should omit “any gimmicks, carveouts, or exemptions that undercut the purpose of this legislation.”
This week the House Committee on House Administration advanced new legislation for a vote this week to address congressional trading. The bill would have banned top members of all three branches of U.S. government from owning stocks, cryptocurrencies, and other digital assets, according to Business Insider, which reported that including the judiciary seemed like a poison pill potentially meant to garner Republican opposition.
Experts also criticized the blind trust provision of the legislation. In an all-caps tweet, Project on Government Oversight Senior Ethics Fellow Walter Shaub said, “With this bill, Nancy Pelosi has effective[ly] declared that Donald Trump did the right thing by creating a fake blind trust because the bill would authorize the creation of fake blind trusts in every branch of government!!!!!!!!”
This week House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD-05) said the House would probably not vote on the legislation before October recess, saying legislators needed more time to consider the bill, according to CNN.
Spanberger implied that was the Democratic leadership’s plan all along.
“Rather than bring Members of Congress together who are passionate about this issue, House leadership chose to ignore these voices, push them aside, and look for new ways they could string the media and the public along — and evade public criticism,” she wrote. “As part of their diversionary tactics, the House Administration Committee was tasked with creating a new bill — and ultimately introduced a kitchen-sink package that they knew would fail, with only days until the end of the legislative session and no time to fix it.”
“It’s apparent that House leadership does not have its heart in this effort, because the package released earlier this week was designed to fail. It was written to create confusion surrounding reform efforts and complicate a straightforward reform priority — banning Members of Congress from buying and selling individual stocks — all while creating the appearance that House Leadership wanted to take action.t,” she said.
Spanberger is in a competitive election with Republican Yesli Vega. On Friday, Vega said Spanberger votes with Pelosi 100 percent of the time, citing data from the current session compiled by ProPublica. In the previous session, Spanberger disagreed with Pelosi on nine percent of votes. As a key talking point, Republicans say Spanberger has a pattern of acting moderate in her district but voting with progressive Democrats.
“Abigail Spanberger’s election year transformation is becoming stale, it’s the same thing every two years. With less than forty days before the election, Abigail is grasping at anything to keep herself relevant as she tries to hide her voting record from Virginians. Too little, too late. Virginians can see through Abigail’s desperate attempts to mislead them and they are ready to vote her out in November,” Vega said in her Friday press release.
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