Editorial: Voters win with bills banning stocks on Capitol Hill

When it comes to earning the trust of the American people, Congress is scraping bottom. A Gallup poll from last summer revealed the percentage of respondents who felt a great deal of confidence in Congress was at a whopping 7%,

That fell from a stratospheric 12% the year before, and they have only themselves to blame.

Partisan sniping, a dearth of civility, legislation designed to advance agendas instead of improve the lives of citizens and endless finger-pointing don’t do much to earn respect from constituents.

But every now and then, strong, clear voices break through the rabble and espouse worthy, if not noble ideas.

Rep. Angie Craig, D-Minn., announced Wednesday she’s reintroducing legislation to keep members of Congress from owning or trading stocks.

“Our constituents sent us to Congress to lower health care costs, fix our roads and bridges and help create good-paying jobs, not play the stock market and line our own pockets. Unfortunately, some of my colleagues have gotten sidetracked by special interests and conflicts of interest,” Craig said in a release about the Halt Unchecked Member Benefits with Lobbying Elimination (Humble) Act.

As the Hill reported, the Humble Act would also slap lawmakers with a lifetime ban on lobbying and restrictions against serving on corporate boards while in Congress.

Lawmakers wouldn’t be able to fly first-class with taxpayer funds — and their pay would be withheld if the House failed to elect a Speaker on the first day of a new Congress.

Can you imagine the speed with which Kevin McCarthy would have been voted Speaker had Congressional paychecks been on the line?

Craig isn’t alone on the Hill in targeting the stock portfolios of lawmakers. Also reintroduced this month, the Transparent Representation Upholding Service and Trust (TRUST) in Congress Act would require members of Congress, their spouses and their dependent children to transfer certain investment assets into a qualified blind trust while serving on Capitol Hill. That was led by Reps. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) and Chip Roy (R-Texas).

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) has also introduced the Preventing Elected Leaders from Owning Securities and Investments Act, the name a dig at Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). That bill also seeks to ban members of Congress from trading and owning stocks.

We hope that with multiple pieces of legislation targeting stock ownership and trading, there is at least a chance that one will pass. As Craig said, lawmakers are supposed to work for us, not amass personal fortunes on our dime.

Beyond the securities issue, Craig’s legislation should be welcomed by those in power who talk the talk about transparency in government and representing working people. Congress is funded by taxpayers, if lawmakers want to fly first class, they can pay for it themselves.

These bills hold out promise that at least some of those in power are mindful of the trust voters placed in them.

Here’s hoping Capitol Hill can walk the walk.