The idea is that elected representatives doing the People’s work and crafting laws that govern society should not be influenced by private companies in which they own stock -- and that could directly or indirectly benefit them if the share prices rise.
The practice is a little more complicated.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California), who has opposed new legislation banning members of Congress from trading individual stocks, signaled this week that she was open now to advancing it -- if such a law has the support of her caucus.
It’s an about-face from her position that current regulations dictating reporting and disclosure requirements for all members of Congress who buy or sell the likes of Alphabet-owned Google (GOOGL) - Get Alphabet Inc. Class A Report, Meta (FB) - Get Meta Platforms Inc. Class A Report nee Facebook, Amazon (AMZN) - Get Amazon.com, Inc. Report, Tesla (TSLA) - Get Tesla Inc Report, and other publicly traded companies are good enough.
Related: Tesla Gets Picked Up by Nancy Pelosi
“I have great confidence in the integrity of my members. They are remarkable. So when people talk about well, somebody might do this and somebody, I trust our members,” Pelosi initially said at her weekly news conference.
Later in her response, however, she added, “To give a blanket attitude of we can't do this and we can't do that because we can't be trusted, I just don't buy into that. But if members want to do that, I'm OK with that.”
Pelosi’s comments come amid pushback for previously objecting to a ban on stock trading in Congress, which has picked up steam on Capitol Hill and among the American public.
Indeed, members in both parties have in recent weeks renewed their call to ban lawmakers outright from making individual stock picks, with several bills having been proposed in the House and Senate.
The objections arise from the idea that legislators have access to inside corporate information that average investors cannot see.
The flurry of legislation comes after Pelosi brushed off worries over stock picking by lawmakers last month.
“We are a free-market economy. They should be able to participate in that,” she said.
Still, Pelosi has asked the House Administration Committee to review the Stock Act, the law requiring members regularly report trades and file reports within 45 days, and said she was open to increasing fines for lawmakers who fail to comply with the deadlines.
Pelosi doesn't trade stocks, but her husband, Paul Pelosi, does. And his regular reports filed under the current rules are closely followed by many investors, including a group of younger investors on social media platform TikTok, who track his successful investment record.