February 1st, 2012
02:16 PM ET
Washington (CNN) - The president will not oppose a Republican-proposed change to the STOCK Act (Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge), a senior administration official tells CNN. The bill would make clear that insider trading of stocks and other securities by members of Congress, their spouses and staffs are illegal.
Republicans like Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) are pushing for the bill to apply to the executive branch as well.
"Insider trading by members of Congress is unacceptable, and the public needs to know that the same rules apply to elected officials as everyone else," Cantor said Monday after the STOCK Act cleared a procedural hurdle in the Senate with a vote of 93 to 2.
The senior administration official voiced skepticism that Cantor's backing is anything but cover for his putting the brakes on the bill in December, arguing that the executive branch is already covered by current law to prevent insider trading by government officials.
House Financial Services Committee chairman Spencer Bachus (R-AL), who was featured in a CBS News 60 Minutes segment about stock trading by members of Congress, acted to move the bill quickly through his committee in December but Cantor asked him to postpone the process known as a mark-up, according to multiple sources, citing bipartisan concerns about the bill.
As the White House questions the need for including oversight of the executive branch in the STOCK Act, the top Democrat in the Senate thinks the change should be made. "I also think it's important that the executive branch of government play by the same rules so what we do here the executive branch of government should do also," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said Tuesday, echoing what Republicans are saying.
"Send me a bill that bans insider trading by members of Congress; I will sign it tomorrow," President Obama, who has made a practice in recent months of taking shots at congress, said last week in his State of the Union address. "Let’s limit any elected official from owning stocks in industries they impact."
While Republicans and Democrats agree the executive branch should also be scrutinized, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell suggested the likelihood of wrongdoing was greater among administration officials than members of Congress.
"Most of our members believe that if there is any insider trading going on in the government, most likely that would be in the executive branch and we want to make sure that this new law applies equally to both," McConnell said Tuesday.