The Senate voted Monday night to move forward a bill banning insider trading by members of Congress.
The Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act would prohibit members of Congress from trading stocks on insider knowledge and require lawmakers to disclose major financial transactions within 30 days.
The procedural vote to advance the bill passed with bipartisan unanimity -- almost.
Two lone senators, Republicans Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and Richard Burr of North Carolina, voted against the STOCK Act.
"What happens the first time somebody doesn’t make that 30-day deadline? They violated the statute in law," Coburn said to reporters on Monday. "What are we doing? You’re not going to have anybody up here except the super, super-rich because nobody is going to say, ‘I can’t put all my money away and not trade.’ It’s nuts."
Neither senators’ office responded to requests to clarify their opposition to the STOCK Act. Burr’s spokesperson did give a comment to North Carolina news channel WWAY:
"Sen. Burr voted against cloture on the bill because there are already laws in place to address this critical issue," Burr spokesman David Ward said. "Laws regarding insider trading that apply to the American people also apply to members of Congress and their staff. Members of Congress are elected to serve the people, not make money for themselves, and any member or staff member who breaks the already existing insider trading laws should be held responsible."
However, no member of Congress has ever been prosecuted by the Securities and Exchange Commission -- a federal agency whose budget is controlled by Congress -- for insider trading.
The STOCK Act languished in Congress for years until a 60 Minutes exposé and a book by Peter Schweizer put the issue under public scrutiny.