No. 2 U.S. House Democrat noncommittal on stock-trading bill, no vote soon

WASHINGTON, Sept 29 (Reuters) – The No. 2 Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives declined to say if he would hold a vote on a bill restricting members of Congress and other government officials from trading in stocks, saying lawmakers needed more time to think about it.

The bill had been listed by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer’s office late last week as possibly coming up for a vote this week, just before the House of Representatives begins a six-week recess to allow members to campaign for re-election on Nov. 8.

With the legislation being unveiled just this week, Hoyer told reporters that rank-and-file members still had to review the details of the bill.

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“People have to look at it. It’s an important issue,” Hoyer said, adding that he wanted to ensure that “if and when we do something we do it right.”

The bill would impose the restrictions on not just members of Congress, but also congressional staff, U.S. Supreme Court justices and other senior officials.

The goal is to tamp down potential conflicts of interest in Washington.

Currently, lawmakers can engage in trading but are not allowed to use non-public information in making investment decisions. They also are required to promptly disclose their transactions.

There have been concerns about Congress members trading stocks of companies, especially those in which the committees they serve on have oversight.

The debate over whether to ban members of Congress and other government officials from making trades has been simmering for a while. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi initially voiced skepticism of taking such steps, but has since allowed a bill to advance toward consideration by the chamber.

Lawmakers’ spouses and dependent children would be included in provisions of the bill as well.

In July, some stock trades executed by Pelosi’s husband, Paul Pelosi, drew attention when he sold his shares of chipmaker Nvidia Corp (NVDA.O) days before the House was expected to consider legislation providing subsidies and tax credits worth over $70 billion to boost the U.S. semiconductor industry.

Paul Pelosi sold 25,000 shares of Nvidia for about $4.1 million, suffering a loss of $341,365, according to financial reports.

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Reporting by Richard Cowan
Editing by Bill Berkrot

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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